What Does Malaise Feel Like?

Medically Reviewed on 2/3/2022
Malaise is a symptom that results in a general feeling of fatigue and lack of well-being, which may be caused by a number of medical conditions.

Malaise is a symptom that can occur due to almost any medical condition. Depending on the type of disease, malaise may begin slowly or quickly.

Symptoms could include the following:

  • Physical malaise:
    • A state of general bodily weakness or discomfort that frequently precedes the onset of a disease
    • Feeling extremely tired or weary; may worsen or fluctuate on and off
  • Mental malaise:

Malaise occurs with many diseases. You may feel as if you don't have enough energy to do your usual activities. Symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause.

Nine possible physical symptoms of malaise include:

  1. Abdominal pain or cramping
  2. Enlarged lymph nodes
  3. Fever and chills
  4. Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, cough, ache, and pain)
  5. Joint pain
  6. Missed or irregular menstrual periods
  7. Muscle ache
  8. Severe fatigue
  9. Unexplained weight loss

Eight other symptoms that may occur along with malaise, such as those related to emotional or psychological disturbance, include:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Changes in mood, personality, or behavior
  3. Depression
  4. Difficulty with memory, thinking, talking, comprehension, writing, or reading
  5. Fatigue
  6. Irritability and mood changes
  7. Lack of energy
  8. Lethargy

Six serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition of malaise include:

  1. Chest pain or pressure
  2. Difficulty breathing
  3. High fever (higher than 101°F)
  4. Inability to eat or drink
  5. Paralysis
  6. Severe abdominal pain or cramping

What may be the common causes of generalized malaise?

Malaise is a general feeling of discomfort or uneasiness that is frequently the first sign of an infection or other disease.

In medical research, generalized malaise was frequently defined as a general feeling of being ill.

  • A malaise can be caused by various factors, ranging from the most minor, such as emotion (causing a vagal response), hunger (causing light hypoglycemia), or dehydration (prolonged sweating), to the most serious such as COVID-19, cancer, and cerebrovascular accident.
  • Malaise is regarded as a general warning sign, but only a medical examination can pinpoint the precise cause.

Nine common infectious diseases that cause generalized malaise include:

  1. Acute bronchitis or pneumonia
  2. Acute viral syndrome
  3. Infectious mononucleosis
  4. Influenza
  5. Lyme disease
  6. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  7. Chronic active hepatitis
  8. Disease caused by parasites
  9. Tuberculosis

Two common heart and lung (cardiopulmonary) diseases that cause generalized malaise include:

  1. Congestive heart failure
  2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Two common organ failure conditions that cause generalized malaise include:

  1. Acute or chronic kidney disease
  2. Acute or chronic liver disease

Three connective tissue diseases that cause generalized malaise include:

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis
  2. Sarcoidosis
  3. Systemic lupus erythematosus

Four endocrine or metabolic diseases that cause generalized malaise include:

  1. Adrenal gland dysfunction
  2. Diabetes
  3. Pituitary gland dysfunction (rare)
  4. Thyroid disease

Three different types of cancer that cause generalized malaise include:

  1. Leukemia
  2. Lymphoma (cancer that starts in the lymph system)
  3. Solid tumor cancer such as colon cancer

Other causes that lead to generalized malaise include:

Medications and treatments that cause generalized malaise include:

Everyone, even people with no mental or physical health issues, occasionally feels a sense of malaise, but it's nearly impossible to pinpoint the source of the feeling without a proper examination or underlying diagnosis.

What should I do when I have generalized malaise?

As previously stated, determining the cause of the malaise is difficult, and whether it is an infection or emergency depends on the person’s age and underlying conditions.

When a person feels malaise, it is important to:

  • Keep the person safe.
  • Protect them from external dangers and weather (cover with a jacket or blanket in cold conditions).
  • Help the person rest in a calm place.
  • Keep them in a recumbent position or let them adopt the most comfortable position.

The goal is to keep the person from falling and improve their blood circulation. If you have severe malaise, contact your doctor right away.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider:

  • Other symptoms with the malaise
  • A malaise that lasts longer than one week, with or without other symptoms


Depression is a(n) __________ . See Answer
Medically Reviewed on 2/3/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Why Do I Feel Malaise? https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/malaise-causes-symptoms

Weighing in on ‘Malaise’: https://www.healthrising.org/blog/2015/03/07/weighing-in-on-malaise/