Heaviness Throughout The Body : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Last Updated: 26/09/2022

Heaviness throughout the body normally occurs after intense physical exertion, lack of sleep or stress. Pathological causes of an unpleasant symptom include psycho-emotional disorders (depression, anorexia nervosa), arterial hypotension, and fever. In the diagnosis, laboratory studies are used - clinical and biochemical blood tests, hormonal profile, bakposev, instrumental methods - ECG with daily monitoring, ultrasound, EEG and ENMG. To relieve heaviness in the body, medications, psychotherapeutic correction, methods of physiotherapy and exercise therapy are prescribed.

Why does heaviness occur in the whole body

Physiological factors

Everyone periodically experiences heaviness in the body, due to prolonged physical work or a grueling workout in the gym. There is a sharp weakness, loss of strength, lack of desire to move and do something. To get rid of uncomfortable sensations, proper rest and long sleep are required. The next day, there is a slight stiffness of movements, muscle soreness.

Symptoms often occur as a result of lack of sleep and increased stress at work. Prolonged fatigue and lack of normal rest cause malaise, fatigue, heaviness throughout the body. It becomes difficult for a person to concentrate on work tasks, memory and thinking deteriorate. Such manifestations occur in people who have undergone chronic stress.

Mental disorders

The symptom is most characteristic of classic depression. Patients spend most of the day lying or sitting motionless, becoming slow and clumsy. A person is sure that it is very difficult for him to move, to perform the usual household activities. Sometimes patients do not have the strength to get out of bed, dress and wash. Heaviness throughout the body is combined with psycho-emotional disorders: mood deterioration, apathy, slowing down of thinking.

Severity occurs when the body is depleted due to anorexia nervosa. Symptoms are mainly determined in young women who restrict themselves in every possible way in food due to dissatisfaction with body parameters. Lack of nutrients leads to constant weakness, fatigue, inability to perform work and normal household tasks. In the cachectic stage, patients remain in bed almost all the time, they have no strength left at all.

Heaviness in the body


Increased body temperature

One of the signs of fever is heaviness throughout the body, accompanied by aching muscles and joints, and general malaise. Symptoms develop already during the prodromal period, when the temperature begins to rise, and persists for the entire period of fever. Sometimes patients report that the head, arms, and legs feel like they are "filled with lead." The patient is concerned about the heat in the whole body, periodically replaced by chills. A similar clinical picture is manifested:

  • Infectious diseases : bacterial, viral, parasitic.
  • Autoimmune processes : Still's disease, periarteritis nodosa, polymyalgia rheumatica.
  • Malignant neoplasms : Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, leukemias, myelodysplastic syndrome.
  • Complications of pharmacotherapy : Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, neuroleptic syndrome.


With low blood pressure, patients feel heaviness and weakness throughout the body, malaise, deterioration in performance. There are pressing headaches, dizziness, visual disturbances. Pre-fainting states and short-term syncope are less often observed. For physiological hypotension, loss of consciousness is not typical, a person occasionally feels heaviness in the whole body or increased fatigue, which is associated with meteorological factors, stress, and lack of sleep.


The change in blood composition is accompanied by bodily heaviness caused by a decrease in oxygenation of tissues, including the brain. A person experiences severe fatigue even after minor physical exertion, with fast walking and climbing stairs, shortness of breath begins. It becomes more difficult to perform the usual work, patients constantly feel a breakdown, weakness. The clinical picture is more typical for deficient anemia.

Rare Causes

  • Intoxication : tuberculosis, cancer, alcohol.
  • Muscular pathologies : myasthenia gravis, myositis, muscular dystrophy.
  • Endocrine disorders : hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, chronic adrenal insufficiency.
  • The period of convalescence after severe injuries, surgical interventions, protracted somatic diseases.


The primary examination is carried out by the therapist. The doctor finds out how long the symptoms began, against which, according to the patient, heaviness appeared throughout the body, whether any home treatments were used. For a full diagnostic search, apply:

  • ECG. A cardiogram is necessary to confirm hypotension, neurocirculatory dystonia, which are manifested by minimal disruption of the myocardium. To detect a problem, an electrocardiogram with stress tests is recorded, daily monitoring of blood pressure and heart rate is used. Sometimes echocardiography is required to verify the diagnosis.
  • ultrasound. An imaging modality is indicated for whole-body severity associated with fever. Taking into account the leading symptoms and localization of unpleasant sensations, an ultrasound scan of various parts of the abdominal cavity, lymph nodes, and pleural sinuses is performed. An ultrasound examination of the adrenal glands, thyroid gland is performed.
  • Neurological examination . A standard physical examination is performed to check reflexes, assess superficial and deep sensitivity, muscle tone and strength. In case of deviations, electrophysiological methods (EEG, ENMG), CT or MRI of the brain are recommended.
  • Blood tests . Based on the results of the hemogram, anemia, an active inflammatory process are diagnosed, and viral and bacterial causes of fever are differentiated. To assess acute phase indicators, to study the functions of the liver and kidneys, a biochemical blood test is used. If necessary, do an analysis of the hormonal profile.
  • Bacteriological culture . An increase in body temperature and other signs of infection are an indication for the study of biomaterials in order to identify the pathogen. To do this, take sputum, feces or urine, vaginal discharge from women. If bodily heaviness is not accompanied by local symptoms, blood sampling is performed three times for bakposev at the height of fever.

To diagnose depression, you need to consult a psychiatrist. The doctor identifies the disease according to clinical criteria, uses special questionnaires for quick screening. The final diagnosis requires the presence of at least two signs of the depressive triad and at least three additional symptoms from the psycho-emotional sphere. A psychiatrist also deals with the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.




Help before diagnosis

Patients are advised to limit physical activity and not overexert themselves. To get rid of the heaviness caused by overwork or lack of sleep, you need a quality rest that will relieve all the discomfort. If fatigue does not go away after sleep and occurs with light exertion, it is worth visiting a doctor. Urgent medical care is required when heaviness in the whole body is accompanied by fever, severe intoxication, impaired consciousness.

Conservative therapy

The selection of medications is carried out taking into account the underlying disease. For depression, antidepressants with a stimulating effect are taken; for anxiety disorders, sedatives are preferred. Correction of hypotension involves herbal adaptogens, nootropic drugs and cerebroprotectors. To combat endocrine pathology, appropriate hormonal therapy is prescribed.

When heaviness throughout the body is caused by an infectious process, etiotropic drugs are selected - antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antipyretics help to eliminate unpleasant symptoms. With endogenous and exogenous intoxications, the basis of therapy is the introduction of infusion solutions, detoxification by extracorporeal methods or the method of forced diuresis.

With psycho-emotional disorders, psychotherapy techniques play a leading role, which may include cognitive behavioral therapy, Gestalt therapy, hypnosis, etc. Classes are held individually with a specialist or in groups. Resistant forms of depression require aggressive treatments, which include sleep deprivation, electroconvulsive therapy.

Another area that can reduce or eliminate heaviness throughout the body is physiotherapy. In depressive conditions, massage, acupuncture, and aromatherapy help well. To correct arterial hypotension, hydrotherapy (Scottish shower, Vichy shower, hydromassage), electrophoresis on the collar zone, and aeroionotherapy are recommended. A good effect is given by regular exercise therapy.