Malaise

Alternative names 
General ill feeling

Definition
Malaise is a generalized feeling of discomfort, illness, or lack of well-being that can be associated with a disease state. It can be accompanied by a sensation of exhaustion or inadequate energy to accomplish usual activities.

Considerations
Malaise is a nonspecific symptom that can occur with almost any significant infectious, metabolic (endocrine), or systemic disorder. The onset may be slow or rapid depending on the nature of the disease.

Fatigue accompanies malaise in many common diseases.

Common Causes

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

ACUTE INFECTIOUS DISEASE

     
  • Influenza  
  • Acute bronchitis or pneumonia  
  • Acute viral syndrome  
  • Lyme disease

CHRONIC INFECTIOUS DISEASE

     
  • AIDS  
  • Tuberculosis  
  • Infectious mononucleosis (EBV)  
  • Parasitic disease  
  • Chronic active hepatitis

CARDIOPULMONARY

ORGAN FAILURE

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

CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE

ENDOCRINE or METABOLIC

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

NEOPLASTIC

     
  • Lymphoma  
  • Leukemia  
  • Solid tumor malignancies, such as colon cancer

BLOOD DISORDERS

     
  • Severe anemia

Home Care

Significant symptoms require prompt attention from your medical provider

Call your health care provider if

     
  • Malaise is accompanied by other symptoms indicating a significant illness.  
  • Malaise persists 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 it lasted (weeks or months)?  
  • What other symptoms do you have?  
  • Is the malaise constant or episodic?  
  • Can you complete your daily activities? If not what limits you?  
  • Have you recently travelled?  
  • 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, testing may be required to confirm the diagnosis. This may include various blood tests, x-rays, or other diagnostic tests.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 2, 2012
by Arthur A. Poghosian, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.