A Guide to Identifying Signs & Symptoms of Fatigue

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Introduction

While very common in patients with an end stage disease, intensification of this subjective symptom is an indication of progression of a variety of disease states.

Possible Causes

Always consider that while fatigue is a common symptom of depression and anxiety states, it may also be indicative of:

  • Infections
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Heart failure
  • Chronic disease of the lungs, kidneys, or liver
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Moderate to severe anemia
  • Malignancies; nutritional deficits
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Medications
  • Drug withdrawal

Collaborate with psychosocial and spiritual professionals to confirm that symptoms are managed with the most effective combination of non pharmacological and pharmacological interventions.

Documentation Tips

When documenting fatigue and the extent to which it is impacting patients and their quality of life, it is helpful to use rating scales similar to those used in measuring pain intensity. Include onset and whether or not it has been acute or intensifying over time. Document the impact on daily function and quality of life based on patient description such as, “fatigue is so bad that I can’t even walk to the bathroom by myself”.

 

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