Know About Malaria Treatment, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Prevention
Published On Nov 30, 2020
Malaria is an acute febrile illness, caused by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito containing one of the four kinds of the Plasmodium parasite- Plasmodium vivax,P. ovale,P. malariae, andP. falciparum. It is a life-threatening disease that attacks the liver where the parasite matures and after maturing enters the bloodstream to infect the Red Blood Cells of the body within 2-3 days causing them to burst open and spread the disease through the body. As the parasites continue to infect the Red Blood Cells, they cause symptoms in cycles that last 2-3 days each time. Since the disease is transmitted by blood, it can also be transmitted due to an organ transplant, a transfusion, and usage of shared syringes or needles. If the disease complicates, it can even lead to the death of the patient for one or more reasons.
Symptoms of Malaria
The Plasmodium parasite sustains in tropical and sub-tropical climates. In a common case of malaria, a patient presents themselves with a combination of the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Shaking chills that range between moderate to severe
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body aches
- Profuse sweating
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pain
- Bloody stools
In countries where malaria is not frequent, these symptoms can be attributed to influenza, common cold, or other such infections and in countries where it is common(tropical and subtropical regions), residents can recognize malaria quickly and resort to “presumptive treatment” without seeking medical consultation.
People at High Risk from Malaria
Malaria puts infants, children under the age of 5, pregnant women, patients with HIV/AIDS as well as non-immune people and travelers at a greater risk than others. In 2018, nearly half of the world's population was at risk of malaria.
Diagnosis of Malaria
When a patient is taken for medical consultation, a doctor is capable of diagnosing malaria by looking at the patient’s health history, including any travel to a region where malaria is a common ailment and will include physical tests to corroborate whether the patient has an enlarged spleen or liver while also asking for a laboratory test.
The test is done by taking the patient’s blood sample which can determine whether the patient has malaria, what kind of malaria does the patient have, does their parasite infection is resistant to a certain drug, the presence of anemia(having fewer RBCs in the body) and whether the disease has affected the patient’s vital organs.
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Treatment Of Malaria
Since the disease is life-threatening, especially if one is infected with the parasite P. Falciparum, the treatment for this is usually done in a hospital under medical advice and the medications are dependent upon the type of parasite the patient has.
In some situations, the medication prescribed may not be able to clear the infection due to the parasite’s drug resistance. During this, a doctor may use one or more medications or even change the medications to get rid of the drug resistance.
For parasites, Plasmodium vivax,P. ovale, the doctor prescribes a second medication to prevent a relapse in the future as these live in the body for an extended period and reactivate at a later date causing a relapse.
While there is no vaccine to cure malaria, certain preventive measures can be taken such as asking for antimalarial drugs medications for prevention before traveling to malaria risked region, using Insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor spraying of residual insecticides, wearing full sleeve clothes, and applying insect repellent to skin and clothing that contain DEET are safety measures to prevent malaria and stay safe. It is also advised to avail of health insurance that provides cover against malaria.
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Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.