7 Symptoms of Malaria

Symptoms of of malaria is one of the things you should know, especially if you leave in an environment that is very conducive for mosquitoes.

Malaria could be deadly hence, knowing the symptoms of malaria will help you take urgent curative treatments to save your life or that of your loved ones.

About 210 million people get infected with malaria each year, and close to 440,000 people die each year from the disease. Young children in Africa die mostly from malaria disease. 

Malaria disease is uncommon in temperate regions like the U.S. but predominant in tropical and subtropical regions of the world such as countries in sub-Sahara-Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.  These countries have warm weather conducive for the malaria parasites to thrive.

Why Malaria is Harmful

Malaria causes chills, high fever, and flu-like symptoms that can be deadly when not treated with dispatch.

What causes Malaria?

Malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium, which is spread by the female Anopheles mosquitoes. 

How Malaria Disease Spread?

Only the female anopheles mosquitoes transmit the malaria parasites. The mosquito transmits the disease by injecting the parasite into the blood of its victim. It sucks the blood of a person already infected with malaria and injects such into another person. 

Once the parasites get into the body of its victim, it travels to the liver where it multiplied. From there, it invades the red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. While inside the red blood cells, it lays eggs, multiplies, until the red blood cells become weak. This gives the parasites more footholds in its victim’s body. As the attack on the healthy red blood cells increases, the victim feels weak and becomes sick.

Other Modes Of Transmission

Malaria parasite can also spread from an infection transmitted through the following means:

  • Through blood transfusions
  • From mother to unborn baby
  • By sharing needles with an infected person

Types of Malaria

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are five species of Plasmodium parasites that cause malaria in humans. Two of these – P. falciparum and P.vivax pose the greatest danger.

  • P. falciparum – This is the most common type of malaria parasite in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific, and the Eastern Mediterranean. P.falciparum causes most of the malaria-related deaths in the world. It propagates very fast, causing aggravated blood loss and clotted blood vessels.
  • P. vivax – This is more common in some parts of Asia and Latin America. The P.virax accounts for 74.1 percent of all malaria cases in the regions.

How to Diagnose Malaria infection

Some of the ways to diagnose malaria infection include:

  • Rapid diagnostic test
  • Antibody test
  • Drug resistance test
  • Blood test
  • Thick and thin blood smears

Symptoms of Malaria

Malaria fever symptoms, especially the ones by P.vivax might take up to 10 to 15 days to start manifesting after the mosquito bite.  Due to some similarities in some malaria symptoms with that of cold or flu, it might be difficult initially to conclude that the symptoms are due to malaria infection. Malaria infection is usually characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

1. Headache

This is one of the common symptoms of malaria infection. A headache could also be as a result of a lack of sleep, tight headwear, stress, loud noise exposure, or an incorrect eyeglass prescription.

2. Chills

This is a feeling of coldness often accompanied by shivering. Chills could also be as a result of a respiratory infection, the flu or a cold.

3. Fever

Increase in body temperature above the normal level (37C). High temperature is not limited to malaria infection alone. This for an adult might not be a concern except it exceeded 39C, but for infants and kids, if  prompt action is not taken, it could result in disorders such as convulsion and delirium.

4. Nausea and Vomiting

This is a feeling of stomach discomfort that comes with the urge of vomiting. Many things that include ulcer, motion sickness, pain, virus, medications, or heartburn could also cause nausea.

5. Muscle pain

A feeling of pain and weakness around the muscle could indicate a malaria infection. Other disorders that could cause muscle pain include influenza, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, Lyme disease, medication, and many more.

6. Fatigue

A feeling of weakness or tiredness is one of the common symptoms that accompany a malaria infection. However, fatigue could also be caused by a lack of sleep, mental health issues, medication (antidepressants), heart conditions, HIV infection, tuberculosis, chronic pain, and more.

7. Seizure

A seizure is a common symptom of severe cerebral malaria in children under the age of 5. Studies reveal that over 50 percent of malaria-associated seizures are due to cerebral malaria.

Conclusion

Many symptoms of malaria infection are associated with many other diseases. For effective treatment, early tests to identify the cause of the disease can help prevent the disease from becoming severe. 

Malaria infection, especially in infants and children if not treated promptly can result in anemia and coma. This could also lead to difficulty in breathing. In rare cases, severe malaria can develop into cerebral malaria, a condition that causes brain damage due to swelling.

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