What causes malaise? 87 possible conditions

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Malaise

Unlike most other conditions, malaise doesn’t have a precise set of symptoms. Instead, it is described as an overall sense of discomfort, illness, or simply not feeling well.

Sometimes, a person can have a sudden onset of malaise. Other times, it may develop gradually and persist for a long period. The reason behind an individual’s malaise can be extremely difficult to pinpoint because it can be caused by so many conditions.

However, once a diagnosis is made, treating the condition may ease the individual’s malaise.

Causes of Malaise

Health Conditions

The list below includes some of the possible explanations for malaise. However, this list is far from exhaustive. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), practically any serious health condition can result in a feeling of malaise (NIH, 2011).Therefore, it is important not to jump to conclusions about the cause until you have seen your doctor.

Some medical reasons for malaise include:

  • acute viral syndrome
  • acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • adrenal gland dysfunction
  • anemia (severe)
  • bronchitis (acute)
  • colon cancer and other cancers involving solid malignant tumors
  • congestive heart failure
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • hepatitis
  • influenza
  • kidney and liver disease
  • leukemia
  • Lyme disease
  • lymphoma
  • mononucleosis
  • parasitic infections
  • pituitary gland dysfunction (rare condition)
  • pneumonia
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • sarcoidosis
  • tuberculosis

Medications

Some medications can also put you at risk for malaise. These include:

  • anticonvulsants
  • some medications used to treat hypertension and heart disease (specifically beta blockers)
  • medications used to treat psychiatric disorders
  • antihistamines
  • combinations of different medications

Malaise and Fatigue

Fatigue often occurs along with malaise. An individual experiencing malaise will often also feel exhausted or lethargic in addition to a generalized feeling of being unwell.

Like malaise, fatigue has a large number of possible explanations. It can be attributed to lifestyle factors, illnesses, and certain medications.

When Should You See Your Doctor About Your Malaise?

The NIH recommends making an appointment with your doctor to have your malaise assessed if:

  • the feelings of malaise you are experiencing are significant
  • you have persistent malaise that has lasted longer than seven days
  • you are experiencing other symptoms in addition to the malaise (NIH, 2011)

How Is Malaise Diagnosed? 

Your doctor will likely first perform a physical examination. He or she will be looking for an obvious physical condition that could be causing your malaise or clues to its root cause.

Your doctor will also probably ask questions about your malaise. Be prepared to provide details such as:

  • approximately when the malaise started
  • whether the malaise seems to come and go, or is constantly present

In addition, your doctor will likely ask you questions about factors such as:

  • recent travel
  • additional symptoms you are experiencing
  • challenges you are experiencing with respect to completing daily activities, and why you feel you are having these challenges
  • medications you are taking
  • your current medical status, including whether you have any known health issues and/or conditions
  • alcohol use
  • drug use

Your doctor may have a better idea of what is causing you to feel generally unwell after the exam. At that point, he or she may order medical testing to confirm or rule out one or more diagnoses. These tests may include blood tests, X-rays, and other diagnostic tools.

How Can Malaise Be Treated and Prevented?

Malaise is not a condition in and of itself. Therefore, treatment will be aimed at addressing the underlying cause. It is impossible to predict what this treatment will consist of because malaise can be caused by something as simple as the flu or something as serious as leukemia.

Treatment for the underlying cause of your malaise can help control the feeling and prevent it from becoming overwhelming. You can minimize your malaise by:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • exercising regularly
  • eating a balanced, healthy diet
  • controlling stress

Because it has so many possible causes, malaise is not easy to prevent.

Article Sources:

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See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.

1

Cold and Flu Overview

Overview Colds (common colds) and the flu (influenza) are contagious infections that affect the respiratory system. Both are airborne illnesses, spread through coughing and sneezing. Colds typically are confined to th...

Read more »

2

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Also known as hypoglycemia, low blood sugar can be a dangerous condition. Hypoglycemia is rare in people who are not suffering from diabetes, the chronic disease that affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar...

Read more »

3

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and pain in the throat. It's especially common in children. Look out for sudden fever, a red throat with white patches, headache, and chills.

Read more »

4

Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)

A sinus infection causes the sinuses and nasal passages to become inflamed. Facial swelling is a common sign of this type of infection.

Read more »

5

Chronic Bronchitis

People often develop acute bronchitis after a viral chest infection. Blue-colored lips ankle or foot swelling can result.

Read more »

6

Swine Flu

Swine flu, also known as H1N1, is a highly contagious virus with symptoms similar to common influenza types. It spreads quickly from person to person, and can linger on tables and surface areas.

Read more »

7

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver. It's usually caused by a viral infection. There are several types of hepatitis, including: A, B, C, D, and E. Symptoms may not occur until liver damage occurs.

Read more »

8

Shingles

Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-voster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Following pain and burning,fluid-filled blisters that break easily are common symptoms.

Read more »

9

Malaria

Malaria is a life-threatening disease. It is typically transmitted through the bite of a mosquito infected with Anopheles. Nausea, chills, fever, and diarrhea are common symptoms.

Read more »

10

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease and the most common type of lupus. One of its common symptoms is a rash on the cheeks and nose called a "butterfly rash."

Read more »

11

Obstructive Uropathy

Obstructive uropathy is a condition in which your urine flow reverses direction. Instead of flowing from the kidneys to the bladder, the urine "refluxes" back into the kidneys. Reflux literally means "a flowing back o...

Read more »

12

AIDS

HIV causes progressive failure of the immune system, making the body far more susceptible to infections and cancer.

Read more »

13

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a severe and sometimes fatal infection that occurs tropical regions. It is most common in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific islands. The disease has been increasing rapidly in Lati...

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14

Ebola Virus and Disease

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Ebola disease-also called Ebola hemorrhagic fever or Ebola fever-is a rare and often fatal illness that humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys and gorillas) can contract. There have been several outbreaks o...

Read more »

15

CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disorder characterized by intense fatigue that cannot be cured with sleep. Mental and physical activities may cause your symptoms to worsen. When your fatigue cannot b...

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16

Neutropenia

Neutropenia is an abnormally low level of neutrophils in the blood. Neutrophils are white blood cells produced in bone marrow and make up about 60% of blood.

Read more »

17

Necrotizing Fasciitis (Soft Tissue Inflammation)

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a type of soft tissue infection. It can destroy the tissue in your skin and muscles as well as subcutaneous tissue. Necrotizing fasciitis is most commonly caused by an infection with group ...

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18

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infectious disease. It is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. B. burgdorferi is transmitted to humans via a tick bite from an infected black-legged or deer tick. The tick become...

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19

Encephalitis

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain tissue. Most cases are caused by viral infections. In rare cases it can also be caused by bacteria.There are two main types of encephalitis-primary and secondary. Primar...

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20

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) causes destruction of the kidneys. It is progressive and irreversible.Your kidneys are an essential part of your body. They have a number of functions: help maintain the balance of mineral...

Read more »

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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