Tiredness (Fatigue) - Tests

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 03 May 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Helen Huins, 03 May 2017

If your tiredness is persisting, or if you are unwell in any other way, or if it is having an effect on your life, see your GP. In order to try to find the cause, your doctor will need to ask you some questions. They may need to examine you and they may arrange some blood tests.

Questions you may be asked

These are to help give some clues about the cause of the tiredness, and may include:

  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Sleep: Do you sleep well? Is your sleep interrupted? Do you snore? Has your partner noticed any changes to your breathing at night?
  • Mood: Do you feel low, or more worried than usual? Are you under any stress? You may be asked to complete a specific questionnaire about your mood.
  • Has your weight changed?
  • Do you have heavy periods? (If you are a woman and of menstruating age.)
  • How much alcohol do you drink?
  • Are you on any medication?
  • Can you remember when this started? Did it start suddenly and can you date it from a particular date, event, holiday or illness? Or did it come on more gradually?
  • How is the tiredness affecting you in your everyday life?

The doctor may examine you

The doctor may check your weight and height, if it seems relevant. You may not be examined, as it may depend on your answers to some of the questions above; however, the doctor may think it relevant to:

  • Check your lymph glands to see if they are enlarged.
  • Check your thyroid gland (in your neck) to see if it is enlarged.
  • Look at your eyes to see if you might be anaemic.
  • Listen to your chest and feel your tummy and the organs in your tummy.
  • Check your joints for swelling or inflammation.
  • Check the strength of your arms and/or legs.
  • Ask you for a sample of your urine to check for sugar (for diabetes) or infection.

Blood tests

Your doctor may feel you should have some blood tests to rule out physical causes for tiredness. In most cases these turn out to be normal. This might include tests to rule out:

Other tests

Usually no other tests are needed, but if specific medical conditions are suspected, other tests such as a chest X-ray might be necessary.

Further reading and references

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