Malaise

Definition

Malaise is a generalized feeling of discomfort, illness, or lack of well-being.

Alternative Names

General ill feeling

Considerations

Malaise is a symptom that can occur with almost any significant health condition. It may start slowly or quickly, depending on the type of disease.

Fatigue occurs with malaise in many common diseases. Mailaise can be accompanied by a feeling of not having enough energy to accomplish usual activities.

Common Causes

The following lists give examples of the diseases, conditions, and medications that can cause malaise.

SHORT-TERM (ACUTE) INFECTIOUS DISEASE

  • Acute bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Acute viral syndrome
  • Infectious mononucleosis (EBV)
  • Influenza
  • Lyme disease

LONG-TERM (CHRONIC) INFECTIOUS DISEASE

  • AIDS
  • Chronic active hepatitis
  • Disease caused by parasites
  • Tuberculosis

HEART AND LUNG (CARDIOPULMONARY) DISEASE

  • Congestive heart failure
  • COPD

ORGAN FAILURE

  • Acute or chronic kidney disease
  • Acute or chronic liver disease

CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

ENDOCRINE or METABOLIC DISEASE

  • Adrenal gland dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Pituitary gland dysfunction (rare)
  • Thyroid disease

CANCER

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma (cancer that starts in the lymph system)
  • Solid tumor cancers, such as colon cancer

BLOOD DISORDERS

  • Severe anemia

PSYCHIATRIC

  • Depression
  • Dysthymia

MEDICATIONS

  • Anticonvulsant (antiseizure) medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Beta blockers (medications used to treat heart disease or high blood pressure)
  • Psychiatric medications
  • Treatments involving several medications

Home Care

If you have significant malaise, contact your health care provider immediately.

Call your health care provider if

Contact your health care provider if:

  • You have other symptoms with the malaise.
  • Malaise lasts longer than one week, with or without other symptoms.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask questions such as:

  • How long has this feeling lasted (weeks or months)?
  • What other symptoms do you have?
  • Is the malaise constant or episodic (comes and goes)?
  • Can you complete your daily activities? If not, what limits you?
  • Have you recently traveled?
  • What medications are you on?
  • What are your other medical problems?
  • Do you use alcohol or other drugs?

If signs or symptoms of a significant illness are present, tests may be required to confirm the diagnosis. These may include various blood tests, x-rays, or other diagnostic tests.

References

Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.