Malaria - Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that attacks the red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. Malaria can be fatal if left untreated. The most common symptoms of malaria are fever, chills, headache, and body aches that usually come on suddenly and then last for 1-2 weeks.
They can also include nausea and dehydration while you have these symptoms. Most cases occur in children under 5 years old who live in malarious areas or have recently returned from a malarious area or been traveling to malarious areas before becoming symptomatic.
In What Countries is Malaria A Problem?
Malaria is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. In the United States, you are at risk for acquiring malaria when visiting parts of Africa or South America.
The most common mosquito-borne disease found in the US today is not malaria, but the West Nile virus.
People who live in areas where mosquitoes carry a high level of resistance to insecticides, such as in Sri Lanka and Malaysia, are most at risk for acquiring a severe case of malaria if they visit an area where malaria was previously prevalent.
What Are The Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of malaria are fever, chills, headache, and body aches that usually come on suddenly and then last for 1-2 weeks. They can also include nausea and dehydration while you have these symptoms.
Most cases occur in children under 5 years old who live in malarious areas or have recently returned from a malarious area or been traveling to malarious areas before becoming symptomatic.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor will do a blood test to determine if you have malaria. The blood test used to diagnose malaria is called a "Rapid Diagnostic Test" (RDT).
What is The Effect Of Malaria On Pregnancy?
Not all people who are infected with malaria become symptomatic. Therefore, many women who live in malarious areas do not know that they have malaria until they become pregnant. Malaria infection during pregnancy can cause serious consequences for both mother and baby.
Malaria in pregnancy can lead to life-threatening conditions for the mother. Malaria may cause placental abruption (the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before delivery), premature rupture of membranes, premature delivery, low birth weight, and stillbirths. Research shows that women with untreated malaria are more likely to have babies with low birth weights. This low birth weight also increases the risk for infant mortality.
Malaria can also affect the developing fetus. Infection during pregnancy has been linked to pre-eclampsia, a condition in which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and is at risk of early delivery. Malaria infection during pregnancy may also cause malformations in the baby.
In most cases, pregnancy does not stop malaria from being transmitted from mother to newborn infant. Most babies with congenital malaria have been born to women who were asymptomatic carriers of malaria parasites.
In rare cases, however, pregnant women with falciparum malaria become so sick that they must be hospitalized and receive quinine or other medicines for days or weeks. When this happens, the mother may give birth to an infant who is infected with malaria parasites.
What is The Treatment For Malaria?
Malaria parasites are very resilient. The parasite remains in your liver and becomes resistant to most treatments, so it doesn't respond to treatment with any medications.
Therefore, you must get treated early to stop the fever and achieve an adequate level of protection against further episodes of malaria.
Several medications can be used to treat malaria in different circumstances. Many people consider chloroquine (Artesunate) the first line of treatment for all falciparum malaria patients.