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Malaria: Key Points One Must Know

Even though malaria can be treated, it is still considered to be the most dangerous among monsoon diseases. Since monsoon is the breeding season for mosquitoes, mosquito-borne diseases outbreak during rains. For people who love drenching themselves out in the rains, harmful viruses may cause havoc in their lives. When compared to other monsoon diseases, malaria takes the top of the list.

Malaria is preventable and also treatable if detected early and given the right medication. To make it more simple and clear, a mosquito bite can kill if it is neglected. Weak health management and unhygienic lifestyle cannot protect from malaria no matter how strong the preventive efforts are. To prevent malaria, it is not just as simple as to know about the preventive measures and follow them. In order to reduce the impact of malaria, one should be involved in a plan that includes education, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and monitoring. So, let’s get a quick overview of malaria to stay protected from it.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease and is life-threatening. It is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. When the infected mosquito bites a person, the parasite gets released into the person’s bloodstream.

Once the parasites enter into the body, they travel to the liver, where they mature. After some days, the mature parasites enter the bloodstream and start infecting the red blood cells. They get multiplied in the red blood cells within 48 to 72 hours, causing the infected cells to burst open. As a result, the person begins to experience the symptoms of malaria.

What are the symptoms of malaria?

Since it takes time for the parasites to get matured and multiply in the red blood cells, the symptoms of malaria typically develop within few days to weeks following the infection. A person infected with malaria may experience:

  • High fever
  • Chills that can range from mild to severe
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sweating

What causes malaria apart from a mosquito bite?

As malaria is a mosquito-borne disease, everyone thinks that one can get malaria only through the bite of an infected mosquito. But, though malaria is not contagious, it can be transmitted when a person gets a blood transfusion from an infected person. The circumstances which can cause malaria without a mosquito bite but through blood transfusion include:

  • An organ transplant
  • Use of shared needles or syringes
  • A baby’s birth by an infected mother, known as congenital malaria.

How can malaria be diagnosed?

If a person has any symptoms of malaria, a doctor will review the health history. Along with this, a physical examination is performed to determine an enlarged spleen or liver. For further diagnosis, the doctor may ask the person to get blood tests which help in determining:

  • Whether he/she has malaria
  • The type of malaria, if infected
  • The parasite, and determine if it is resistant to certain types of drugs
  • If malaria has caused anemia
  • If malaria has affected any vital organs

What are the possible complications of malaria?

Malaria can lead to some life-threatening complications. If malaria is not detected early or neglected, the following complications may occur:

  • Cerebral malaria, in which the blood vessels of the brain tend to swell
  • Fluid gets accumulated in the lungs which causes trouble breathing, also known as pulmonary edema
  • Vital organs may fail such as spleen, liver or kidneys
  • Low blood sugar
  • Anemia, as the parasites destructs the red blood cells

How is malaria treated?

As malaria is life-threatening, its treatment should be provided in the hospital. The medications depend on the type of parasites that have caused malaria. In some cases, a person may be infected by a type of parasite that is resistant to drugs. In such cases, the doctor may prescribe more than one medication or change the medications for the treatment.

Since the symptoms of malaria are much similar to that of flu, people may take antiviral drugs by their own without getting doctor’s advice. This has to be strictly avoided.

Is there any vaccine for malaria?

A vaccine to prevent malaria is currently not available.But when there is an outbreak of malaria, one can consult the doctor and get medications that can help to some extent in preventing the disease.

How can malaria be prevented?

As mentioned earlier, malaria is preventable. Here are a few yet effective preventive measures which help people stay protected from malaria. These should be followed by people even if they are taking medicines to prevent malaria, as no medication is 100% effective. The preventive measures include:

  • Stay protected from mosquito bites by sleeping under mosquito nets
  • Cover the skin by wearing socks, long pants, long-sleeve shirts
  • Use mosquito repellent on the clothes and exposed parts of the body
  • Use mosquito repellent sprays in the rooms.
  • Always keep the room doors shut and close the windows properly to avoid mosquitoes getting in.
  • Young children and pregnant women should avoid traveling to malaria-prone areas.
  • Be careful in cases of necessity for blood transfusion or use of needles and syringes.