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Malaise

General ill feeling

 

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

Considerations

 

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

Fatigue (feeling tired) occurs with malaise in many diseases. You can have a feeling of not having enough energy to do your usual activities.

 

Causes

 

The following lists give examples of the diseases, conditions, and medicines 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

MEDICINES

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

 

Home Care

 

Call your health care provider right away if you have severe malaise.

 

 

Call 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 Office Visit

 

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam 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 traveled recently?
  • What medicines are you on?
  • What are your other medical problems?
  • Do you use alcohol or other drugs?

You may have tests to confirm the diagnosis if your provider thinks the problem may be due to an illness. These may include blood tests, x-rays, or other diagnostic tests.

Your provider will recommend treatment if needed based on your exam and tests.

 

 

References

Leggett J. Approach to fever or suspected infection in the normal host. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 288.

Simel DL. Approach to the patient: history and physical examination. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 6.

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        A Closer Look

         

          Self Care

           

            Tests for Malaise

             
               

              Review Date: 1/31/2015

              Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, medical director and director of didactic curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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