Malaise is a general feeling of being unwell. It can also be described as feeling unwell, sick, or having body discomfort.
Many times fatigue also accompanies malaise.
The feeling of malaise can come on quickly or slowly, depending on the sickness. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the malaise.
In this article, we talk about what malaise is and what can cause it.
We also talk about how it is diagnosed and treated and when you should see your medical professional.
What is Malaise?
Malaise is not a condition of its own but is a symptom of many health conditions.
Sometimes the feeling of malaise can come on slowly, and sometimes, it hits suddenly.
How long it lingers depends on what the underlying condition is.
Sometimes the reason for the malaise can be challenging to diagnose as it’s associated with many health conditions.
Symptoms of malaise include:
- Your body doesn’t feel right
- You feel “off-color”
- You feel poorly or unwell
- You feel like you are getting sick
- You have vague body discomfort
Malaise is often accompanied by feelings of fatigue (feeling tired), loss of appetite, and body aches.
Types of Malaise
Some malaise you can recover from rather quickly, while some malaise is long-term, lasting a long time with a chronic medical condition.
What Causes Malaise?
Many conditions can cause malaise, including diseases, viruses, bacteria, and other conditions. Some types of medications can also cause malaise.
Numerous medical conditions can make you feel malaise. The following is a list of only some of the causes.
Before jumping to conclusions, be sure to see your primary medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Organ problems such as:
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Adrenal gland dysfunction
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Pituitary gland dysfunction
Cancers such as:
- Colon cancer
Chronic conditions such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Short-term causes for malaise can be:
- A chest infection like bronchitis or pneumonia
- Infectious mononucleosis caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- The flu (influenza)
- The common cold
Long-term infections that cause malaise can include:
- AIDS by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Active hepatitis
- Parasite infections
- Lymes disease
Medication Side Effects
You may be taking several medications for certain medical conditions that could cause malaise as a side effect.
If you feel this is the case, speak with the prescribing medical professional about it before stopping the medication. There may be an alternative medication that won’t give you malaise.
The following is a list of possible medications:
- Antihistamines (allergy and cold medications)
- Anticonvulsants (seizure medications)
- Beta-blockers (high blood pressure and heart disease medications)
- Psychiatric medicine (mental disorder medications)
- Type of treatments that require several medications to be used
How Is Malaise Diagnosed?
Diagnosis will first start with your primary medical professional reviewing your medical history and current medication list.
They will also ask you questions about your symptoms, such as:
- When did your symptoms start?
- How severe is your malaise?
- Are you experiencing any other symptoms?
Then your medical professional will perform a physical exam, including taking your vital signs, listening to your heart and lungs, and assessing your abdomen.
You may be asked to take some more diagnostic tests depending on any accompanying symptoms.
A urinalysis can check for possible urinary tract infections and other abnormalities in the urine.
Having your blood drawn and sent to the lab for review can give many clues as to what could be causing your malaise.
Your primary care professional can look at your blood levels, including:
- White blood count level (to check for infection)
- Red blood cell count (to check for anemia)
- Check your electrolyte levels
- Check the function of your heart, liver, and kidneys
- Check your blood sugar levels
- See your thyroid hormone levels
Imaging exams and other tests
If your symptoms lead your medical professional to believe there could be a problem with one of your internal organs, they may order some imaging tests to see what’s going on inside your body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a great way to see cross-section images of your organs without radiation exposure
- Computed tomography (CT) scan uses an x-ray to look for problems with your organs
- Ultrasound can be used to check how organs like your heart are functioning.
- An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) can see the electrical activity of your heart and read if there is any problem with your heartbeat.
- An X-ray can also be used to see the lungs, abdomen, and other potential sites of infection.
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your malaise.
For some viral infections, your primary medical professional may tell you to go home and rest, eat a balanced diet, and stay hydrated while your body fights off the infection.
For a bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection, your doctor may prescribe you a medication to help kill the infection.
Be sure to take all your medications as ordered, and don’t stop taking them when you start to feel better. Finish the whole regimen to be assured the infection won’t return.
For reasons related to long-term or chronic medical conditions, your medical professional will go over medications used to treat those problems.
Things you can do when not feeling well:
- Allow your body to get plenty of rest
- Eat foods that are healthy and support immune function
- Do light exercise for short periods like walking around your house and stretching (but don’t push yourself too hard)
- Decrease unneeded stress until you are back to health
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking
- If you have body aches, take over-the-counter (OTC) medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen
- Avoid being around other people and spreading the sickness
- Ask family or friends for help, so you can have time to rest
When To Seek Medical Attention
Contact your primary medical professional if you experience:
- Other symptoms with your malaise
- Malaise for longer than one week, with or without accompanying symptoms
How K Health Can Help
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