Signs & symptoms of extreme exhaustion

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Extreme exhaustion is the state of feeling very fatigued, to the point where you may not want to move or even be able to move. Exhaustion can be caused by many different factors, such as prolonged exposure to heat (heat exhaustion), illness, insufficient sleep or intense physical exertion.

The signs and symptoms of extreme fatigue will vary depending on the cause, though certain symptoms are likely to occur regardless of the cause.


Inattentiveness is one of the warning signs of extreme fatigue and exhaustion. Exhaustion caused by lack of sleep, stress and anxiety are likely to decrease your attention to detail. This can cause a person to do things absentmindedly, and can be especially dangerous when operating a vehicle or machinery.


When exhaustion is more severe, inattentiveness may turn into confusion. A person may temporarily forget what they are doing, where they are or where they were going. A strong feeling of malaise is also likely. If the stupor is bad enough the person may not be able to think or talk properly.


Feeling dizzy or faint is sign of extreme exhaustion. When the body is very exhausted, the effectiveness of the heart and blood at delivering oxygen to the brain can be diminished, which can lead to dizziness. In some cases, dizziness may also lead to fainting. If you feel dizzy you should sit down immediately and control your breathing to avoid the possibility of fainting and injuring yourself by falling.

Rapid Heartrate

Extreme exhaustion is sometimes accompanied by a rapid heart rate. After an intense physical exertion or especially during exposure to heat, the heart may struggle to supply blood to the body and will race, while the strength of the pulse may be weak. As the heart struggles to supply oxygen to the body, it can continue to beat at an elevated rate long after activity or exposure to heat has ended. If the skin becomes moist, hot or red, it may signify heat exhaustion.


Usually extreme exhaustion can be overcome with proper rest, sleep and food and water intake, but sometimes it can lead to severe complications. In the case of heat exhaustion, heat stroke can result if the case is severe enough. During heat stroke the skin becomes very hot and often dry and the body temperature goes over 40 degrees C which can result in death. Overexertion can sometimes result in heart attack or hyperventilation. Most cases of severe exhaustion can be prevented by getting adequate sleep and nourishment, and avoiding risk factors such as heat and physical exertion.