General weakness is an overall feeling of fatigue, weakness, and tiredness. Usually, the condition is a feeling that occurs over the entire body, and cannot be pinpointed to one specific location. Weakness may occur in a specific muscle group, however; for instance, overexertion of the legs during exercise can lead to a feeling of overall weakness in the legs. General weakness is usually a symptom of something else, rather than a condition in and of itself.
Overall weakness can be caused by a number of things; temporary illnesses such as a cold or the flu can cause weakness, or medical conditions such as a thyroid condition, heart disease, or multiple sclerosis can cause overall feelings of fatigue. In addition, simple explanations such as overexerting oneself while exercising, eating a consistently poor diet, or not getting enough sleep at night can cause general weakness as well. Mental illness such as depression can lead to persistent feelings of fatigue.
The symptoms can be difficult to pinpoint. Usually, an overall feeling of tiredness is present; it may seem difficult or impossible to exercise or participate in any sort of physical activity. Muscles may or may not be sore. Weakness is a fairly common symptom with a great number of potential different sicknesses, so it will often be necessary to experience a few other symptoms in order to receive a diagnosis from a doctor.
One who is experiencing general weakness can often resolve the problem by getting some rest, taking a break from exercising, attempting to get more sleep at night, and improving the diet by making sure that it is balanced and full of enough nutrients. Sometimes, a specific nutrient deficiency can lead to a feeling of overall fatigue and weakness. The weakness should usually resolve within a few days or so; if it does not, it is best to consider other potential causes of weakness. A doctor may perform blood tests or other diagnostic procedures to determine if a medical condition is present.
General weakness in a specific muscle group is generally caused by overexerting the muscle, either accidentally or during exercise. If the weakness suddenly occurs in the left arm, however, and is possibly accompanied by throbbing pain or shortness of breath, this can be indicative of a heart attack. Otherwise, specific muscle group weakness should also heal by itself within a few days, but it is important to allow the muscles to rest, and to not continue to strain them.