What does the notion of AEG mean: “Alteration of the General State”?

What does the notion of AEG mean: “Alteration of the General State”?

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A generic concept particularly used in emergency medicine, Alteration of General Condition (AEG) does not correspond to a specific pathology or syndrome. What does this concept cover? What are the different causes that can lead to AEG? Explanations from Dr Gérald Kierzek, emergency doctor and Medical Director of TipsForWomens.

When do we talk about Alteration of General Condition (AEG)? What exams are required? This medical assessment of patients is based on several signs revealed to us by Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician.

Alteration of General Condition (AEG), not an illness strictly speaking

Frequently used in community and hospital medicine, the concept of AEG (Alteration of General Condition) corresponds to very specific clinical conditions. “It is not a disease strictly speaking, but a generic term used to translate different symptoms and clinical conditions, such as fatigue, weight loss, loss of energy, diffuse pain, sleep disorders, etc. This notion is used in medicine when we observe the repercussions of an illness on the general condition of a patient”, underlines Dr Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and Medical Director of TipsForWomens.

A combination of different clinical signs

Fatigue alone is not a sufficient symptom to speak of “Alteration of the General Condition”. This notion implies the association of other clinical signs, such as loss of muscle strength, dehydration or weight loss. Generally, the deterioration of the general condition combines the triptych asthenia, anorexia and weight loss (the 3 “A”). “Weight loss is considered when it is greater than or equal to 5% of usual weight. specifies the emergency doctor.

In infants, the deterioration of the general condition can result in a very slight loss of weight but can be expressed more markedly by apathy, for example.

Alteration of General Condition (AEG): a range of possible causes

All kinds of illnesses can lead to an Alteration of General Condition (AEG).

In the first place, any viral or bacterial infection can lead to AEG, whether benign or serious. “Influenza, Covid, mononucleosis, urinary infection, septicemia are among the infectious causes which lead to an alteration of the General Condition. says the doctor.

Apart from these acute pathologies, many chronic diseases can also cause an Alteration of General Condition (AEG). “This is the case for untreated type 1 diabetes, heart failure characterized by edema and dyspnea, anemia or any pulmonary disease, for example. continues the doctor.

On the psychological level, certain illnesses can also lead to an alteration of the General Condition. This is the case of severe depression which results in anorexia, weight loss and asthenia, or other mental disorders.

In cancerology, an Alteration of the General Condition is extremely common. “In the presence of this clinical picture, we always look for whether it is a cancer, known or not, which has evolved quietly or whether there is a link with chemotherapy or the administration of other treatments., specifies Dr. Gérald Kierzek. At the end of life, AEG is systematic with, in the final stage, cachexia, as in a palliative care unit.

In elderly subjects, the causes of Alteration of the General State are the same as in younger subjects. The person weakens, fatigue becomes chronic and a vicious circle sets in. “On the other hand, in the elderly, AEG can occur during a sliding syndrome which results in complacency and refusal to eat.warns Dr. Gérald Kierzek.

Unless it is associated with very acute pathologies, such as sepsis or mononucleosis, an AEG is a situation that does not present itself overnight. “In the event of circulatory or respiratory distress and/or impaired consciousness, emergency hospitalization is necessary. continues the emergency doctor. However, in the vast majority of cases, an Alteration in General Condition does not occur suddenly. Medical treatment requires a visit to your general practitioner who will prescribe various additional tests based on your clinical examination.

Several possible complications

One of the possible health complications of AEG is cachexia, namely a state of severe, even extreme weight loss.

Furthermore, the appearance of metabolic disorders, when essential nutrients and minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc.) are no longer properly supplied to the body via food, represents another possible complication. “This can in particular lead to cardiovascular problems.points out the doctor.

In some cases, hospitalization will be necessary. This will make it possible, initially, to provide symptomatic treatment (rehydration, renutrition, etc.) depending on the patient’s clinical condition. “Secondly, an etiological treatment depending on the cause (treatment of diabetes, a thyroid disorder, cancer, etc.) may be considered.“, explains the doctor.

Finally, hospitalization linked to an Alteration of General Condition may also present other specific complications. When prolonged, bed rest can in fact lead to a risk of bedsores on the skin, a risk of urinary infection or even phlebitis.