If you’re lethargic, you feel tired, sluggish and have a general lack of energy. Often, it’s short-lived and won’t cause any lasting damage, but if you’ve been feeling this way for a while, it’s worth chatting to a doctor about it, to check you don’t have an underlying condition that could be causing it.
The symptoms of feeling lethargic will depend on what it is causing it. Common lethargy symptoms to look out for include:
If your baby or child is difficult to rouse, you should seek medical attention immediately.
What can lethargy be a symptom of?
Feeling lethargic can be a symptom of:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a term used to describe extreme tiredness – it’s also known as ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis). CFS is not well understood, but certain things are thought to contribute to is, such as mental health conditions, a viral infection, a hormonal imbalance or because of a combination of other factors.
Depression is a mental health disorder and can affect you in a number of different ways, one of which is feeling like you have a lack of energy. Read more about depression.
Experiencing anxiety every so often is sometimes completely normal, but if you feel constantly anxious, this can cause symptoms including lethargy. Read more about it anxiety.
Coeliac disease affects one in 100 people across the UK, according to Coeliac UK, although not everyone realises that they have the condition. It’s a type of food intolerance that causes damage to the gut when gluten is eaten.
Coeliac disease is accompanied by other symptoms as well as lethargy, such as anaemia, weight loss and diarrhoea. A gluten free diet is usually advised if you’re diagnosed with his condition.
Iron deficiency - anaemia
Anaemia is another reason for feeling lethargic, sluggish and run down. Women who have heavy periods or who are pregnant are particularly prone to anaemia, but men can also feel tired due to iron deficiency.
If you have a fever, one of the symptoms can be feeling extremely lethargic. Once the underlying cause of the fever is treated or resolves on its own, you should start feeling yourself again soon after.
Sleep apnoea happens when your throat becomes floppy during sleep, which results in reduced blood oxygen levels and interrupted breathing, which will wake you up at night. With sleep interrupted throughout the night, it is common for you to feel lethargic the next day.
Diabetes, type one or two, is a long-term condition, and managing it daily can make you feel lethargic. Undiagnosed diabetes has other tell-tale symptoms as well as lethargy, such as weight loss, thirst and frequent urination.
Feeling lethargic can be a result of an underactive thyroid gland. The condition is more common in women and can result in lethargy, aching muscles and weight gain.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Inhaling too much carbon monoxide can be life threatening and it can make you very drowsy. If you think you may be at risk, seek help urgently.
Glandular fever is a viral infection and causes lethargy, along with a sore throat, fever and swollen glands. It typically clears up in six weeks. However, glandular fever can leave you feeling tired for several months afterwards.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a depressive disorder that has a seasonal pattern, typically experienced in the winter. If you feel particularly lethargic during the winter months, this could be a potential cause.
Restless legs can keep you awake at night and lead to feeling lethargic the next day. It is when you have uncomfortable leg sensations, such as an urge to keep moving your legs, or spontaneous leg jerking.
The first signs of heart disease can be lethargy or exhaustion caused from completing everyday tasks, such as climbing stairs.
Dehydration can cause you to feel lethargic. Drinking sips of water helps the body to flush out toxins and rehydrate you, but dehydration can be deadly, especially in children. Find out more dehydration.
This is an infectious disease transmitted to humans by ticks. As well as developing a rash, you’ll start to feel unwell and tiredness is one of the main symptoms. Speak to a doctor urgently if you think you may be at risk.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) can affect how women feel in the days running up to their period, which can include making you feel tired.
This is only a small selection of the conditions that can cause lethargy. If it is impacting your daily life, you should see a GP – they can then investigate it further for you and help you find the cause.
How can Push Doctor help?
At Push Doctor, you can talk to a GP online, on any device from home, work or even when you are on the go. They can discuss your lethargy over a video consultation, listen to your symptoms and suggest the right treatment to get you back up on your feet as quickly as is possible.
You can see a GP about your lethargy at a time that suits you. Our doctors can be contacted 7 days a week. They’ll offer you the advice, diagnosis and treatment you may need. They can also refer you to a specialist for further treatment or investigation.
NHS - trained and registered doctors
Every one of our doctors is registered with the General Medical Council and can be found on the NHS National Performers List, so you know you are only ever receiving the best possible care and advice.
They are experienced in treating a wide range of conditions, and can help with almost everything your regular GP could in a physical surgery. You can meet some of our doctors here.
Push Doctor also has an in-house Medical team, who support our doctors day in, day out, and enable our doctors to do what they do best. They are also responsible for the ongoing training and development of doctors on our platform.
They are the foremost authority in our industry, assessing health providers' ability to provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care – be they offline or online doctors.
Push Doctor is registered with the CQC under the name 'Push Dr Limited', with the registration number 1-5345986073.
Our most recent inspection took place in May 2019, concluding that the service we provide is safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led – gaining a 'Good' rating overall. You can read the report in full on our CQC profile.
Same day prescriptions
Our NHS-trained GPs can, if appropriate, issue prescriptions online following a consultation. Once your consultation is complete, our team will search for the closest pharmacy to you which has your medication available. We'll then send you a text when your prescription is ready to collect.
To collect your medication, simply hear to the nominated pharmacy to collect and pay for your prescription. You will need to take a valid form of ID to show the pharmacist when you arrive. This process is almost always done within the same day of your consultation.
Instant fit (sick) notes
Our GPs can send a sick/fit note directly to you if necessary following an online consultation. These can be sent directly by email or first-class post.
Fit notes include recommendations about how and when you'll be able to return to work or education, or whether you're able to return to work with amended duties (e.g no heavy lifting or reduced hours). They can also contain detailed advice about managing your medical issue in the workplace.