Malaise is a generalized feeling of discomfort, illness, or lack of well-being.
General ill feeling
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. Malaise can be accompanied by a feeling of not having enough energy to accomplish usual activities.
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)
- Lyme disease
LONG-TERM (CHRONIC) INFECTIOUS DISEASE
- Chronic active hepatitis
- Disease caused by parasites
HEART AND LUNG (CARDIOPULMONARY) DISEASE
CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE
ENDOCRINE or METABOLIC DISEASE
- Adrenal gland dysfunction
- Pituitary gland dysfunction (rare)
- Thyroid disease
- Lymphoma (cancer that starts in the lymph system)
- Solid tumor cancers, such as colon cancer
- Anticonvulsant (antiseizure) medications
- Beta blockers (medications used to treat heart disease or high blood pressure)
- Psychiatric medications
- Treatments involving several medications
If you have significant malaise, contact your health care provider immediately.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
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 Office Visit
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.
Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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