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Causes of Malaise and Fatigue

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


Definitions of Malaise and Fatigue

Many different ailments will cause malaise and fatigue. Probably one of the first things anyone thinks of these days is the COVID virus, but many other causes are also possible for these symptoms. The word malaise has been around since the twelfth century, and it came from the French language.

One interesting definition is found in Wikipedia, “Malaise is a non-specific symptom and can be present in the slightest ailment, such as an emotion (causing fainting, a vasovagal response) or hunger (light hypoglycemia), to the most serious conditions (cancer, stroke, heart attack, internal bleeding, etc.).” For the purpose of this article we will combine malaise the fatigue and look at symptoms of common diseases.

Fatigue is a total lack of energy to take care of your everyday chores with extreme tiredness. Malaise is more of an overall feeling of discomfort. Malaise and fatigue may start slowly or quickly depending on the cause or type of disease.

There are a few symptoms of malaise that typically occur along with fatigue, including:

  • A feeling of overall weakness
  • A feeling of discomfort
  • Feeling like you have an illness
  • Just simply not feeling well or like your normal self
  • Getting more rest does not resolve the problem

Possible Reasons For Malaise and Fatigue

There are several common diseases that have the symptoms of fatigue and malaise, such as: various blood disorders, heart disease, sleep apnea, diabetes, kidney or liver disease. When you begin to experience malaise and fatigue along with other symptoms you should probably see your physician. Most of these diseases will run their course fairly quickly.

To help you determine what might be causing your discomfort a list of short-term (or acute) Illnesses will be listed in no particular order with the specific symptoms for each disease.

The COVID-19 virus is very contagious and symptoms may run from mild to severe. There are numerous possible symptoms, including: congestion or runny nose, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. The symptoms list has grown, so watch the news to keep abreast of any new developments.

Black Tick Causes Lyme Disease

Black Tick Causes Lyme Disease

Other diseases that are usually resolved quickly include:

  1. Influenza (other than COVID-19) will typically cause body aches, a fever, cough, runny nose or a sore throat.
  2. Acute bronchitis or pneumonia may include a fever, headache, chills, cough and chest pain.
  3. Lyme disease is caused by the black-legged tick, which is found in all fifty states with more than 300.00 cases occurring annually. The tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours to cause the disease but if it is removed within 48 hours there will be no symptoms. The symptoms tend to be flu-like, but there may also be a red rash.
  4. Mononucleosis is a contagious, infectious disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also called the “kissing disease”. It is not typically serious unless you have complications. Symptoms include a sore throat, headache with swollen tonsils and lymph nodes.
  5. Hyperthyroidism (overactive) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) may cause malaise and fatigue until they have the medications in a therapeutic range.
  6. Anxiety disorders, depression or other psychiatric disorders that may improve with medications and counseling.

Symptoms of Malaise

Chronic Causes of Malaise and Fatigue

There are several possible reasons for these symptoms due to more chronic illnesses.

  1. Fibromyalgia syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue. Symptoms include chronic muscle pain, sleep problems, painful tender points and morning stiffness.
  2. Hepatitis is a disease of the liver that often has flu-like symptoms, along with abdominal pain, pale stools and dark urine. The medications can also be an issue as to side effects.
  3. Severe anemia is a blood disorder that occurs due to low iron. It may cause dizziness, leg cramps, a fast heart rate and pale skin.
  4. Kidney disease may also have nausea and muscle cramps, which often has a poor appetite as well. Kidney dialysis is also exhausting.
  5. Diabetes may also cause you to be very thirsty or hungry. Blurred vision, frequent urination and a dry mouth are also common symptoms.
  6. Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus, plus the medications prescribed for these types of diseases.
  7. Congestive heart failure causes the heart to work less effectively than usual. Blood moves through the heart at a slower rate but the pressure in the heart increases. When less than optimal blood is pumped through the heart fluid may build up in the arms, legs, feet, lungs or other organs, which fully explains the malaise and the fatigue.
  8. Most types of cancer along with their treatments cause fatigue and malaise along with pain.
  9. Sleep apnea fatigue will improve with the proper nighttime equipment.

Possible Lifestyle Causes

There are certainly some reasons that your fatigue and malaise are due to possible choices you have made. You might take a bit of an inventory concerning your personal life if you suffer from fatigue and malaise. Some common reasons include:

  • Excessive use of alcohol and drugs
  • Excess physical activity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Jet lag disorder
  • Lack of sleep
  • Medications, such as antihistamines, cough medicines
  • Unhealthy eating habits
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Sleep Apnea Airway Obstruction

Sleep Apnea Airway Obstruction

Final Conclusions

Fatigue and malaise are very common symptoms of multiple diseases. You have to consider other factors that accompany these symptoms to truly know the possible causes. So many people live with chronic pain, cancer, COPD and many other diseases that affect their sleep

It is important to live a healthy lifestyle, exercise, do not smoke and eat healthy to enjoy the best of health. Many medications have side effects that cause fatigue, but the choice is sometimes not treating the disease. Life choices are not always easy and we can only move forward making the best decisions possible.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby


Robert Sacchi on October 21, 2020:

You're welcome.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 21, 2020:

Hi Robert,

I am glad you find my medical article informative. Thanks for commenting.

Robert Sacchi on October 21, 2020:

Thank you very much for a another informative medical article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 08, 2020:

Hi Adrienne,

Medications can sure cause these effects. Also, I have read that people are not going to the doctor for many complaints due to COVID-19. Thanks so much for your comments.

Adrienne Farricelli on October 08, 2020:

Hi Pamela, this was a very thorough read. I imagine with COVID-19 taking all the attention, so many other disorders are ignored so we all think it must be COVID, when there are so many other causes of fatigue. I am glad you mentioned antihistamines as my allergy is acting up lately and have been feeling sleepy and tired since taking cetirizine and now I know why.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 08, 2020:

Hi Umesh,

I am delighted that you found this article informative. Thank you so uch for your comments.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 08, 2020:

Very informative and useful article. Well presented.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2020:

Hi Rajan,

There are a multitude of diseases with these symptoms, so paying attention to any ofhter symptoms should help to find a diagnoses. Yes, I think it means going to the doctor quite often. Thank you for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2020:

Hi Ms Dora,

I am glad you found this information useful. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 07, 2020:

Very interesting topic to write about. The causes of both are so many that one should seek medical advice, more so if one is suffering from chronic diseases and is taking medicines. Making good lifestyle choices will, of course, be of help anytime. Thanks for sharing this information.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 07, 2020:

I'm completely useless if I ever get fatigued. Thanks for the warnings and remedies, and for the motivation to keep on doing what we can to maintain our health.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2020:

Hi Raymond,

I think the not knowing what the problem is makes it so difficult as you really have no end in sight. Thank you for your thoghtful comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2020:

Hi Lorna,

When we overdo it we will feel the consequences. Slowing down is a good thing to do as your body may just need a rest in order to feel good with your normal level of energy.

I appreciate your comments, Lorna, and I hope Hubpages fixes these glitches as finding who wrote an artice right now is guess work.

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on October 07, 2020:

Hi Pamela, I am glad that you studied this subject in depth. Many have to deal with either one or both of them. Sometimes it is difficult to understand where it comes from. Thank you for sharing this information.

Lorna Lamon on October 07, 2020:

Over the past few weeks I feel as if I have been going on empty. However, your article has made me realise that I need to slow down and pace myself. Easier said than done during this pandemic with fewer staff. Thank you for sharing this interesting article Pamela with its wealth of information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2020:

Hi Linda,

They can interefere with our everyday activities and they may just be a sign you need some more rest. The idea is to know when you are becoming ill. I appreciate your comments. Stay healty, Linda.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2020:

Hi Vidya,

You can evaluate other symptoms or maybe understand you simply didn't get enough sleep. Thank you so much for your comments. Have a great day!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 06, 2020:

It was interesting to read about malaise. Fatigue and malaise can certainly interfere with life. Thank you for sharing the useful information, Pamela.

VIDYA D SAGAR on October 06, 2020:

Hi Pamela, very interesting read. We often feel low in energy without any reason and wonder why. Some improvements in lifestyle surely help. You have given insightful tips on this. Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 06, 2020:

Hi Ankita,

I'm so glad you found this article interesting. Your comments are much appreciated.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 05, 2020:

Hi Alyssa,

I am glad this ws some new information for you. Thank you so much for your very nice comments. Stay healthy and safe.

Ankita B on October 05, 2020:

I did not know about malaise before. This was an interesting read.

Alyssa from Ohio on October 05, 2020:

I always love your articles, Pamela! This was fascinating and I learned some new things. I've never heard the word 'malaise' but I'm certain I've experienced it in my life. I enjoyed learning more about the causes behind fatigue. Thank you!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 05, 2020:

Hi Sp,

That is certainly one of the points of this article. Many diseases have similar symtoms. I appreciate your clever comments. I hope you have a very good week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 05, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

They are symptoms of so many diseases. I am glad this article is new knowledge for you.

I appreciate your very nice comments. Have a wonderful week, Rosina.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 05, 2020:

Hi Cheryl,

My years of nursing have kept me interested in the medial field as I really loved working as a RN. I appreciate your very nice comments. Have a very good week, Cheryl.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 05, 2020:

Hi Kapana,

I am glad you learned some new information. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 05, 2020:

Hi Linda,

I think most of us don't have the stamina we had when we were younger. but we do what we can. I wanted to try and differentiate older age symptoms from acual diseases.

I hope you stay healthy, Linda. I also hope Hubpages fixes their glitch. Thank you for your comments.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on October 05, 2020:

It's always interesting to see how one symptom can be the same for different conditions. It just shows you that you really shouldn't diagnose yourself, as the cause could be something that requires a prescription or further testing.

Rosina S Khan on October 05, 2020:

This is a good and well-presented article about the causes of malaise and fatigue, which happen to be the symptoms of multiple diseases. I have become more knowledgeable now. It is packed with useful information about the issues so that it would definitely help out somebody suffering from the symptoms. Great article, Pamela!

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on October 05, 2020:

Pamela you have a gift and your years of nursing give you the knowledge to help so many. You address things that help those who don't know where to turn for the answers.

Kalpana Iyer from India on October 05, 2020:

Informative as usual. I did not know about malaise and its various causes. Thank you for the educational post, Pamela.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 05, 2020:

Pamela, I'm surprised that I'm the first here to respond. I hope that Hub Pages fixes the glitch soon. This is an interesting article; I didn't think that so many medical conditions could cause a feeling of fatigue, but it makes sense.

I rarely feel "tired" and every day feels about the same as the one before. I do know that I don't have as much stamina as I used to, but when you're in your 7th decade I guess that's to be expected. Thanks for another informative article.

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