Symptoms of Malaria

Symptoms of malaria can develop as quickly as seven days after being bitten by a mosquito that is infected with the malaria virus. The typical incubation period is around 7 to 18 days before malaria symptoms will show. It’s important to visit a doctor if you think you might have malaria.

Common and Initial Symptoms of Malaria

Common and initial symptoms of malaria are typically similar to that of flu. Some of the most common symptoms of malaria include:

  • Running a high temperature
  • Suffering headaches
  • Having bouts of sweats and chills
  • Vomiting

If you’re experiencing flu like symptoms then it doesn’t mean you have malaria. However, if you’ve been visiting a high-risk area and you’re experiencing any of the initial symptoms of malaria then it’s always best to go and get checked by a doctor. It’s important to remember that malaria can be difficult to spot especially when you don’t realise you’ve been bitten. Depending on the strain of malaria you have been infected, the bouts of feverish malaria symptoms will usually occur at 28-hour intervals. These bouts will usually last anywhere between 6-12 hours.

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Other Symptoms of Malaria

As well as the common and initial symptoms listed above, there are also other symptoms of malaria to watch out for including:

  • Aching and painful muscles
  • Diarrhoea
  • General feelings of malaise
  • Anaemia
  • Convulsions
  • Blood stools

Severe Symptoms and Complications of Malaria

Once diagnosed by a doctor at a clinic, you will either be classified as uncomplicated or severe malaria. Cases of uncomplicated malaria are typically quite easy to treat. Severe malaria usually requires more aggressive treatment and the virus can lead to a range of malaria complications. Some complications of malaria are:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling of the blood vessels of the brain
  • Slipping into a coma
  • Accumulation of fluid on the lungs
  • Organ failure
  • Severe anaemia
  • Low blood sugar
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What is Malaria?

Malaria can be a serious and life-threating condition that affects the blood. It’s caused by parasites bring passed into the human blood stream by infected mosquitoes. As soon as a malaria infected mosquito bites a human it transmits the virus.

The viral parasites then attack the persons liver; the infection then goes on to attack and destroy the red blood cells in the body. The infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. Malaria is most commonly found in tropical and subtropical climates. It’s estimated that around 3.2 billion people worldwide are at risk of contracting malaria.

What Causes Malaria?

People develop malaria when they are bitten by a mosquito that has been infected with the Plasmodium parasite. If a pregnant lady is infected then she can pass the infection onto her new born baby. This is known as congenital malaria. Malaria is transmitted through blood so it can be transmitted through a number of ways including:

  • Mosquito bites
  • From mother to baby during pregnancy
  • Organ transplant
  • Blood transfusions
  • Use of shared needles or syringes

Where Can You Catch Malaria?

There are hundreds of countries where there are high risks of malaria. It’s important to visit a travel clinic before going abroad to ensure you have the appropriate protection against malaria. Some of the most at risk areas include:

  • Areas of Africa and Asia
  • Central and South America
  • Haiti and the Dominican Republic
  • Parts of the Middle East
  • Some of the Pacific Islands

How is Malaria Diagnosed?

All doctors will be able to diagnose malaria. Should you display any symptoms and if you’ve been in a high risk area then it’s important to visit your nearest healthcare facility. During your appointment, an exam will be carried out to determine a number of things such as:

  • Whether or not you have malaria
  • The type of malaria you have
  • If the infection is resistant to drugs
  • If anaemia has set in
  • To see if your organs have been affected

How is Malaria Treated?

Malaria can be a severe and life-threatening condition especially when it isn’t treated. Medication will be prescribed depending on the type of parasite you’re infected with. In some cases, the medication will simply not clear up the infection. If this does happen then the doctor may use other treatments or multiple medications to help clear up the malaria strain you’ve been infected with.

Preventing Malaria

As there is no current vaccination for malaria, it’s important to understand how you can prevent it to help reduce the risk of infection. Some of the ways to malaria prevention techniques include:

  • Using nets when sleeping
  • Keep windows and doors closed and stay somewhere that has air conditioning
  • Anti-malaria tablets
  • Using insect repellent
  • Wear long sleeved loose clothing rather that shorts and vests

Anti-malarial tablets have been proven to reduce the risk of infection by up to 90%. It’s important to remember when taking the tablets that you start the course before you go away and continue it after you return to ensure the best possible protection against malaria.

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Malaria Diagnosis & Treatment