Diagnoses of fatigue in primary care patients

Oct 26, 2009

Patients who visit their family doctors for fatigue have a wide range of diagnoses yet the prevalence of serious illness was low, according to a Dutch study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Fatigue is a common problem seen in 5% to 10% of patients, and its non-specific nature makes it challenging for general practitioners. The study sought to describe the diagnoses associated with fatigue established within 1 year after presentation.

It looked at 571 patients in 147 general practices across the Netherlands who presented with fatigue as a main symptom. Forty-seven per cent of patients received one or more diagnoses that could be associated with fatigue, with musculoskeletal problems the most common at 19.4%. Other diagnoses included diseases or problems of the digestive tract (8.1%), nervous system (6.7%) and respiratory tract (4.9%). Of the 8.2% of patients diagnosed with severe illness, these illnesses included anemia, lung pathology, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and others. Half the did not receive a diagnosis that explained their fatigue.

"Because most symptoms may show a recurrent pattern over time, further research is needed to help clarify the association between fatigue and other non-specific symptoms," write Iris Nijrolder of the VU Medical Center in Amsterdam and coauthors.

However, were the second largest diagnosis and may actually be underestimated. were noted more frequently in self-reported patient questionnaires than in patients' medical charts. Sleep problems were also underreported in patient charts.

A study limitation was that the researchers did not use standardized protocols for physical examinations and diagnostic testing, which would have resulted in variations in the recorded diagnoses.

"Because of the wide range of conditions and symptoms that may explain or co-occur with the fatigue, is a complex problem that deserves attention not only as a symptom of underlying specific disease," conclude the researchers.

Source: (news : web)

Explore further: Study shows Tamiflu gets patients back on their feet faster, reduces flu complications

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study takes a step toward better defining fatigue

May 15, 2008

In an effort to better define and ultimately address fatigue more effectively, a qualitative study from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has identified three primary themes - loss of strength or energy, ...

Underestimated Late Effects of Breast Cancer

Oct 27, 2006

Women who have been successfully treated for breast cancer are still not in good health for many years. In a study on more than 300 affected women, epidemiologists of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, ...

Patients recover from West Nile virus after one year

Aug 19, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- People infected with West Nile virus seem to return to normal within one year of experiencing symptoms, a new McMaster study has found. The study, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is the ...

Childhood trauma associated with chronic fatigue syndrome

Jan 05, 2009

Individuals who experience trauma during childhood appear more likely to develop chronic fatigue syndrome as adults, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In ...

Recommended for you

Kidney-brain connection may help drive chronic kidney disease

8 hours ago

In addition to affecting blood pressure, high-salt intake can promote kidney function decline in patients with chronic kidney disease. A study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (J ...

Flu's grip on U.S. starting to weaken: CDC

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—After a rough start to the flu season, the number of infections seems to have peaked and is even starting to decline in many parts of the nation, federal health officials reported Thursday.

Litchi fruit suspected in mystery illness in India

9 hours ago

A mysterious and sometimes fatal brain disease that has afflicted children in northeastern India for years could be linked to a toxic substance in litchi fruits, US researchers said Thursday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.