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Symptoms 2023

Muscle weakness: 10 main causes and what to do

Muscle weakness: 10 main causes and what to do
Muscle weakness: 10 main causes and what to do

Muscle weakness is more common after doing a lot of physical effort, such as lifting a lot of weight in the gym or repeating the same task for a long time, and usually tends to be more localized, appearing in the legs, arms or chest, depending on the muscles being used.

This happens because the muscle fibers are injured and need to recover, making it harder to get strength. In these cases, resting the affected muscles usually relieves the weakness and makes you feel more energetic. Therefore, it is very important to avoid training the same muscle two days in a row at the gym, for example, so that the muscle has time to recover.

However, there are other causes that can also cause muscle weakness, such as a cold, which causes a feeling of weakness in every muscle in the body.And while most causes are mild, there are also more serious cases that need to be evaluated by a doctor, especially if the weakness lasts longer than 3 to 4 days.

1. Lack of physical exercise

When a person does not do any type of physical activity and spends a lot of time sitting at work, or at home watching television, for example, their muscles lose strength because they are not being used. This happens because the body begins to replace muscle fibers with fat and, therefore, the muscle is less able to contract.

In addition to a sedentary lifestyle, this cause is also very common in the elderly and people who have been bedridden and, in addition to weakness, there is also a decrease in muscle volume and difficulty performing activities that were easy

What to do: Whenever possible, it is important to do physical activity such as walking, jogging or weight training at least 2-3 times a week.In the case of bedridden people, it is also important to exercise in bed to maintain he althy muscles. Check out some examples of exercises for bedridden people.

2. Natural aging

Over the years, muscle fibers lose their strength and become more flaccid, even in elderly people who exercise regularly. This can cause a general feeling of weakness, which slowly develops with age.

What to do: keep exercising, making only the efforts allowed by your own body. At this stage, it is also important to alternate training days with a rest day, as the body needs more time to recover and avoid injuries. See the most recommended exercises for the 3rd age.

3. Lack of calcium and vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D are two very important minerals to ensure the correct functioning of muscles, so when their levels are very low it is possible to experience constant muscle weakness, in addition to other symptoms such as muscle spasms, lack of memory, tingling and easy irritability.

What to do: Vitamin D is produced in the body itself and through regular sun exposure it is activated and starts working. Calcium, on the other hand, can be absorbed from some foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli or spinach. If these two minerals are low, you may need to take medication prescribed by your doctor.

See also a more complete list of foods rich in calcium.

4. Colds and Flu

Generalized muscle weakness and excessive tiredness are very common symptoms of colds and flu and happen because the body is trying to fight the flu virus and therefore there is less energy available for the correct functioning of the muscles. In addition, in some cases, the muscles can also become inflamed due to the increase in body temperature, which is why the weakness can be more intense in some people.

Apart from the flu, any other infection of the body with viruses or bacteria can also cause these types of symptoms especially in cases of diseases such as hepatitis C, dengue, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV or Lyme disease.

What to do: if you suspect a cold or flu, you should stay at home, drink plenty of water and rest, avoiding more intense activities, such as going to the gym, for example. If the weakness does not improve, or high fever and other symptoms appear that may indicate a more serious problem, it is important to go to the general practitioner to identify the cause and start the appropriate treatment.

5. Use of antibiotics

The use of some antibiotics, such as Ciprofloxacin or Penicillin, and other medications such as anti-inflammatories or drugs for high cholesterol, can have side effects such as fatigue and muscle weakness.

What to do: consult the doctor who prescribed the medication to assess the possibility of changing the medication. Especially in the case of antibiotics, treatment should not be interrupted without first talking to the doctor.

6. Anemia

Anemia is one of the main causes of excessive tiredness, however, when it is more severe, it can also cause muscle weakness, making it more difficult to move the arms and legs, for example. This happens because the value of red blood cells is very low and, therefore, there is less oxygen transport to the muscles.

What to do: anemia is more common in pregnant women and people who do not eat meat, so if there is suspicion of this disease, you should go to the general practitioner to have it checked out. a blood test and assess the number of red blood cells, initiating appropriate treatment. Understand how anemia is treated.

7. Depression and Anxiety

Some psychiatric changes can cause very sharp physical sensations, especially in energy and mood levels. In the case of depression, it is common for the person to feel low on energy and, therefore, may experience a lot of muscle weakness throughout the day.

In the case of those who suffer from anxiety, for example, adrenaline levels are always very high and the body becomes more tired over time, resulting in excessive weakness.

What to do: You should consult a psychologist and psychiatrist to assess whether there is any psychiatric problem that needs to be treated with psychotherapy or medication, such as Fluoxetine or Alprazolam.

8. Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease characterized by an increase in blood sugar levels, and when this happens, the muscles cannot function properly and, therefore, it is possible to experience a decrease in strength. In addition, when the amount of sugar is too high, the nerves can start to suffer injuries, failing to properly innervate some muscle fibers, which end up atrophying.

Generally, people with diabetes also have other symptoms such as excessive thirst, dry mouth, frequent urge to urinate and wounds that take time to heal. Take our test to find out your risk of having diabetes.

What to do: you should go to the general practitioner or endocrinologist who may request tests to assess blood sugar levels. If there is diabetes, or increased risk, it is important to avoid the consumption of sugary foods and follow the treatment recommended by the doctor.

9. Heart disease

Some heart diseases, especially heart failure, cause a decrease in the volume of blood that is circulating in the body, so there is less oxygen available to deliver. When this happens, the muscles can't contract properly and, therefore, it becomes more difficult to do activities that were once simple, such as climbing stairs or running.

These cases are more common after the age of 50 and are accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, swelling of the legs, palpitations or frequent coughing, for example.

What to do: if there is a suspicion of heart disease, it is important to consult a cardiologist to perform tests, such as an electrocardiogram and echocardiogram, in order to identify if there is any change that needs to be specific treatment.

10. Breathing problems

People with breathing problems, such as asthma or emphysema, for example, may suffer more often from muscle weakness. This is because oxygen levels are often lower than normal, especially during or after an attack. In these cases, the muscle receives less oxygen and, therefore, does not have as much strength.

What to do: you should maintain the treatment recommended by the doctor and rest when muscle weakness appears. People who do not have respiratory problems, but who are suspected, should consult a pulmonologist to perform the necessary tests and start the appropriate treatment.

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