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Lightheadedness and fatigue are two common symptoms that can have a variety of causes. The symptoms may appear on their own or together, and may not be simultaneous even if they are connected to the same cause. The causes of lightheadedness and fatigue are often minor and a result of a temporary health problem. In some cases, however, these symptoms can become a chronic problem and may indicate a more serious underlying condition.
Lightheadedness can be described as similar to dizziness. Some people feel weightless, are unable to walk or think normally, or become faint. Fatigue is an extremely common symptom that makes a person feel tired, listless, or weak. Both lightheadedness and fatigue can be mild enough to shake off in a few seconds, or severe enough to want to stay in bed all day.
Often, lightheadedness and fatigue are caused by a disruption of the systems bodily functions due to inadequate nutrition or other problems. Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, occurs when the body runs low on energy-providing glucose, and may cause lightheadedness and fatigue. Dehydration or not getting enough sleep can also cause an appearance of these symptoms. An episode of fatigue and feeling lightheaded usually ends when the disruption to normal food, water, or sleep patterns is addressed.
Some medical conditions and medical treatments can cause the appearance of these symptoms. People with diabetes may be more likely to develop hypoglycemia as a result of an insulin imbalance that their bodies cannot correct without medication. Other conditions, such as thyroid imbalances, may also result in fatigue and dizziness if not correctly managed. Many prescription medications list both fatigue and lightheadedness as possible side effects of the drugs.
If a person has sustained a head or neck injury, fatigue and lightheadedness can be signs of a serious problem. Injuries to the head can cause concussion, loss of consciousness, swelling in the brain, or other potentially severe conditions. Anyone who has difficulty remaining awake or experiences extreme dizziness or lightheadedness after an injury may need medical attention immediately.
More serious causes of fatigue and lightheadedness are rare, but may be investigated by doctors if the symptoms become chronic. Heart problems that prevent proper blood and oxygen circulation may cause exhaustion and dizziness; similarly, low levels of oxygen in the blood can have the same effect. Inner-ear problems and cancerous or non-cancerous tumors in the brain can also cause both of these symptoms to become chronic. Generally, if symptoms persist for over two weeks, medical consultation is often recommended.