There is no test to diagnose fatigue, so it is important for the patient to tell family members and the health care team if fatigue is a problem. To assess fatigue, the patient is asked to describe how bad the fatigue is, how it affects daily activities, and what makes the fatigue better or worse. The doctor will look for causes of fatigue that can be treated.
The assessment process may include the following:
This is an exam of the body to check general signs of health or anything that seems unusual. The doctor will check for problems such as trouble breathing or loss of muscle strength. The patient's walking, posture, and joint movements will be checked.
The patient is asked to rate the level of fatigue (how bad the fatigue is). There is no standard way to rate fatigue. The doctor may ask the patient to rate the fatigue on a scale from 0 to 10. Other ways to rate fatigue check for how much the fatigue affects the patient's quality of life.
The most common blood tests to check if the number of red blood cells is normal are:
A fatigue assessment is repeated to see if there is a pattern for when fatigue starts or becomes worse. Fatigue may be worse right after a chemotherapy treatment, for example. The same method of measuring fatigue is used at each assessment. This helps show changes in fatigue over time.