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A to Z Symptom: Malaise and Fatigue

What Are Malaise and Fatigue?

Malaise and fatigue are common symptoms of many different illnesses:

  • Malaise (meh-LAZE) is an overall feeling of discomfort and lack of well-being.
  • Fatigue (feh-TEEG) is extreme tiredness and lack of energy or motivation for everyday activities.

Malaise and fatigue often go hand-in-hand and indicate a child is sick or about to become sick. Symptoms can start slowly or appear suddenly depending on the cause. They can be acute (short-lasting) or chronic (long-lasting).

What Causes Malaise and Fatigue?

Common medical problems associated with malaise and fatigue include pneumonia, mononucleosis, the flu, Lyme disease, sleep apnea, chronic fatigue syndrome, blood disorders, congestive heart failure, kidney or liver disease, and diabetes. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety also can cause malaise and fatigue.

Sometimes, malaise and fatigue can be traced to bad health habits and lifestyle factors, including not getting enough sleep, an unhealthy diet, caffeine use, alcohol abuse, and inactivity. Some medicines also can cause overtiredness and a general ill feeling.

What Else Should I Know?

Malaise and fatigue are common symptoms that can be treated once the cause is known. Sometimes, though, they can point to a more serious problem, so when a cause isn’t clear, kids should see a doctor.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.