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Malaise

Malaise is a generalized 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. Along with malaise, you can have a feeling of not having enough energy to do usual activities.

Causes

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

SHORT-TERM (ACUTE) INFECTIOUS DISEASE

LONG-TERM (CHRONIC) INFECTIOUS DISEASE

HEART AND LUNG (CARDIOPULMONARY) DISEASE

ORGAN FAILURE

CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE

ENDOCRINE or METABOLIC DISEASE

CANCER

BLOOD DISORDERS

PSYCHIATRIC

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 severe 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 traveled recently?
  • What medicines are you on?
  • What are your other medical problems?
  • Do you use alcohol or other drugs?

If you have signs or symptoms of an illness, tests may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. These may include blood tests, x-rays, or other diagnostic tests.

Based on your evaluation and any tests, your healthcare provider will recommend treatment if needed.

Alternative Names

General ill feeling

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.

Update Date: 1/22/2013

Updated 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. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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