Drowsiness is a general term for a condition in which a person feels a sensation of sleepiness, tiredness, fatigue, weariness, lethargy, or exhaustion. Drowsiness can be normal, such as at the end of the day before bedtime, or drowsiness can be a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions.
Drowsiness can result from sleep deprivation, medication side effects, the use of alcohol or drugs and mental illnesses. Drowsiness can also be the result of diseases, disorders and conditions that can make it difficult to get enough normal sleep. These can include sleep disorders, infection, inflammation, trauma, pain, malignancy, chronic diseases and autoimmune diseases.
Drowsiness can occur in any age group or population. Depending on the cause, the sensation of drowsiness can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when it occurs due to excessive exercise or a single night of sleeplessness. Drowsiness can also can be chronic and ongoing over a longer period of time, such as when it is due to disturbed sleep patterns caused by depression or heart failure. For more details about causes, see causes of drowsiness.
Drowsiness, especially chronic drowsiness, can seriously impact the ability to function effectively in everyday life. Drowsiness can lead to decreased alertness, trouble with work, school and relationships, and an increased risk of causing a motor vehicle collision.
There are many symptoms that can accompany drowsiness, depending on the disease, disorder or condition that is at the root of it. Some symptoms include headache, confusion, low blood sugar, fever, weight loss, weight gain, weakness and dizziness.
Diagnosing drowsiness and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including accompanying symptoms, and completing a physical examination, including a neurological examination. Diagnostic testing may also include a mental health exam and sleep studies.
A variety of other tests may be performed to help to diagnose the underlying disease, condition or disorder causing drowsiness and to evaluate overall heath. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include blood tests. A complete blood count (CBC) can help to determine if anemia or an infectious process, such as bacterial infection is present. A chemistry panel is also often done. A blood glucose test may be done to check for diabetes and hypoglycemia. TSH and other thyroid tests can help to determine if hypothyroidism is the cause of drowsiness.
Other tests may also be performed depending on the suspected cause. These include imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT scan, nuclear scans and MRI.
A diagnosis of drowsiness and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because drowsiness may be mild or not last for long periods of time. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of drowsiness.
Treatment of drowsiness involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of drowsiness. ...more »
Treatment plans for drowsiness are individualized depending on the cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the underlying or associated cause and helps to minimize the abnormal drowsiness so that a person can sleep well at night, be alert ...more treatments »
Diagnosing drowsiness and its cause may be delayed or missed because the drowsiness may not be severe or consistent enough for a person to seek medical care. In addition, some people may believe that drowsiness is a normal part of aging. Drowsiness is a symptom of many different conditions, and some of them are potentially serious. A thorough medical evaluation is ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Drowsiness
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Treatments for Drowsiness
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Wrongly Diagnosed with Drowsiness?
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Causes of Drowsiness
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causes of Drowsiness
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Drowsiness: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Drowsiness
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RLS sleep disorder causing night-time leg sensations often misdiagnosed: A common but relatively unknown
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Definitions of Drowsiness:
Profound state of unconsciousness associated with depressed cerebral activity from which the individual cannot be aroused; coma generally occurs when there is dysfunction or injury involving both cerebral hemispheres or the brain stem.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
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