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Fact Sheet

April 14, 2012

What Is Fatigue?

Fatigue is tiredness that does not go away when you rest. It can be physical or psychological.

With physical fatigue, your muscles cannot do things as easily as they used to. You might notice this when you climb stairs or carry bags of groceries.

With psychological fatigue, it may be difficult to concentrate for as long as you used to. In severe cases, you might not feel like getting out of bed in the morning and doing your regular daily activities.

Is Fatigue Important?

Fatigue is one of two main ways the body warns you about a problem. The other warning is pain. Most of us pay attention to pain, and stop whatever causes us pain. We don't pay as much attention to fatigue. One reason might be that fatigue sneaks up on us: it usually gets worse so slowly that we don't even notice.

People with HIV and fatigue tend to get sicker faster than people without fatigue. Also, ongoing fatigue can weaken the immune system. People with HIV should find out what is causing their fatigue and treat it.

How Do I Know if I Have Fatigue?

Fatigue can start and increase very slowly. If you feel tired even after you rest, talk with your health care provider about fatigue. Give your health care provider as much information as possible. This will make it easier to know if you are fatigued, and what might be causing it. The following questions are good to think about before you talk to your health care provider about fatigue:

What Causes Fatigue, and How Is It Treated?

Fatigue can be caused by many different factors. Work with your health care provider to find the cause of your fatigue and the best way to treat it.

The Bottom Line

Fatigue is a very common condition for people with HIV. Untreated fatigue can make HIV disease progress faster.

It can be very difficult to figure out the cause of fatigue. Several different factors can cause the same symptoms. Blood tests can identify some causes but not others. The more information you can give your health care provider, the easier it will be to determine what is causing your fatigue and how to treat it.

This article was provided by AIDS InfoNet. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.