Malaise is a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or lack of well-being.
General ill feeling
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.
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)
- Lyme disease
LONG-TERM (CHRONIC) INFECTIOUS DISEASE
- Chronic active hepatitis
- Disease caused by parasites
HEART AND LUNG (CARDIOPULMONARY) DISEASE
- Congestive heart failure
- Acute or chronic kidney disease
- Acute or chronic liver disease
CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
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) medicines
- Beta blockers (medicines used to treat heart disease or high blood pressure)
- Psychiatric medicines
- Treatments involving several medicines
Call your health care provider right away if you have severe malaise.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your 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 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.
Leggett JE. Approach to fever or suspected infection in the normal host. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 280.
Nield LS, Kamat D. Fever. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 201.
Simel DL. Approach to the patient: history and physical examination. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 7.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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