What Causes Exercise Intolerance?

October 23, 2023

There are a number of different disorders that can cause exercise intolerance. Exercise intolerance occurs when an individual is unable to exercise an average amount. It's an important phenomenon for both medical professionals and other individuals to be aware of, as exercising more is an impossible suggestion for an individual with exercise intolerance. To exercise, an individual needs to have nutrients and oxygen delivered adequately to their muscles. The muscles must be able to utilize the oxygen and nutrients. In addition, the muscles must be able to generate an appropriate amount of energy. When someone has exercise intolerance, they generally have a disorder that keeps one or more of these factors from occurring.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that progresses over time. It causes persistent infections in the lungs, and as time passes, the ability of the individual to breathe is severely limited. Cystic fibrosis patients have a defective gene that makes a thick buildup of mucus within the pancreas, lungs, and some other organs. When found in the lungs, this mucus clogs airways and entraps bacteria, which leads to infections, damage to the lungs, and eventual respiratory failure. Within the pancreas, this mucus buildup prevents digestive enzymes from being released, so the person doesn't absorb the nutrients they need from food. Cystic fibrosis causes exercise intolerance because it severely limits the body's ability to take in oxygen, while also preventing the muscles from metabolizing nutrients the way they should. Individuals with cystic fibrosis tend to experience persistent coughing, often with phlegm. They also have frequent severe lung infections that include bronchitis or pneumonia. Wheezing, shortness of breath, and poor growth are also common symptoms.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a medical disorder that causes extreme tiredness and fatigue not associated with another medical condition. Resting doesn't improve the fatigue, but physical and mental activity might cause said fatigue to worsen. Other names for the disorder include systemic exertion intolerance disease and myalgic encephalomyelitis. Chronic fatigue syndrome doesn't have any known cause, although medical professionals have a variety of theories. Some professionals believe the condition is brought on by psychological stress or viral infections, or a combination of potential factors. No individual test confirms a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Individuals tend to need many medical tests that rule out potential health issues. The typical treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome has a focus on relief from symptoms. Individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome cannot tolerate exercise without their condition being worsened. Signs of chronic fatigue syndrome include fatigue, a sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, unexplained joint or muscle pain, loss of concentration or memory, headaches, and extreme exhaustion. These periods of exhaustion might last longer than twenty-four hours after a person engages in mental or physical exercise.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

Post-concussion syndrome refers to a group of symptoms that might continue for a period following a concussion. Concussions are the mildest form of traumatic brain injury. Post-concussion syndrome is said to occur in around fifteen percent of individuals who have had a single concussion. In some cases, the symptoms last for only a few weeks, but in others, they may last for more than one year. A diagnosis is made when an individual's symptoms last for longer than three months following the injury. An individual doesn't need to lose consciousness to receive a diagnosis. Post-concussion syndrome itself doesn't have a treatment, but there are treatments for individual symptoms. Most cases of this condition, thankfully, eventually resolve. Symptoms are mostly physical, although some psychological symptoms may persist for longer periods. Common physical symptoms include a headache, while difficulty concentrating is a common cognitive symptom, and irritability presents as a behavioral symptom. Other disorders might increase a great deal of the symptoms.

Cardiac Arrhythmia

Cardiac arrhythmia is the medical term for heart rhythm problems. These occur when the body's electrical impulses fail to properly coordinate the heartbeats, which makes the heart beat irregularly, too slow, or too fast. Heart arrhythmias might feel like your heart is racing or fluttering. They have the potential to be harmless, but some can cause symptoms and signs that might be either bothersome or potentially life-threatening. Treatment for the condition is often able to eliminate or control irregular heartbeats. Some arrhythmias don't have any symptoms at all. When there are symptoms, they tend to be a feeling of fluttering in the chest, a slow heartbeat, a racing heartbeat, or chest pain. The condition can cause exercise intolerance when it presents with shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting or near-fainting episodes.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Spinal muscular atrophy is a disease that affects the portion of the nervous system responsible for controlling the movement of the voluntary muscles. The majority of the nerve cells controlling muscles can be found in the spinal cord, which is why the disease includes the term 'spinal.' It's a muscular disease based on the effect it has on the muscles. Atrophy refers to the muscles shrinking as they fail to be active. With spinal muscular atrophy, individuals lose the motor neurons found in their spinal cord. The disease is genetic, but the progression, symptoms, and age of onset are all highly variable. The younger an individual is when affected, the greater the probable impact on their motor skills. Spinal muscular atrophy symptoms cover a broad range, though the main one is weakness in an individual's voluntary muscles. Spinal curves might also develop when the back muscles become weak. Because of the weakening of the muscles, patients with spinal muscular atrophy have an intolerance to exercise.

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