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The Truth About Malaria

 

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by a Plasmodium parasite.

It is transmitted to humans through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. Once infected, the host’s liver serves as a multiplying environment for the parasite before they infect and destroy red blood cells.

Malaria symptoms can be classified into: Uncomplicated and Severe Malaria.

Uncomplicated Malaria

Symptoms progress through cold, hot and sweating stages

  • Cold stage – sensation of cold with shivering
  • Hot stage – fever, headaches and vomiting; seizures sometimes occur in young children
  • Sweating stage – sweats followed by a return to normal temperature with tiredness

More commonly, sufferers get

  • Fever & chills
  • Headaches
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Body aches
  • General malaise

Severe Malaria

In severe malaria, clinical and laboratory evidence shows signs of vital organ dysfunction. Symptoms of severe malaria include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Prostration or adopting a prone position
  • Multiple convulsions
  • Clinical jaundice
  • Cerebral malaria, with impairments of consciousness, seizures or other neurological abnormalities
  • Severe anemia
  • Blood in urine
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Low blood pressure caused by cardiovascular collapse
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Metabolic acidosis (excessive acidity in the blood and tissue fluids), often in association with hypoglycemia
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Hypoglycemia may also occur in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria, or after treatment with quinine.

Severe malaria can be fatal without treatment.

Diagnosis & tests

We strongly advise clinical confirmation of the malaria parasite through laboratory testing before receiving any malaria treatment. This is because other diseases often have symptoms that are similar to malaria.

Your hospital should conduct the test first and only treat for malaria if the test results are positive. Uncomplicated malaria can be treated as outpatients without requiring admission.

Prevention

You can usually prevent getting malaria by

  • Cleaning your space and the area around your homes. This should include removing pools of stagnant water
  • Use insecticide treated nets over your beds as you sleep. With proper placement and consistent use, you reduce your exposure to mosquitoes
  • Prescribed use of prophylactic malarial drugs especially for pregnant women, people with sickler cell disease, people from areas where malaria is not endemic.

If you happen to have any malaria symptoms, please avoid self-medicating. Ensure you see a doctor and share this post!

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