Malaria: Prevention and Treatment

Malaria: Prevention and Treatment

Malaria is a potentially deadly infection that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. If not detected and treated promptly, it can have serious consequences.

Malaria is a severe illness that spreads when a mosquito infected by parasites bites a human and injects them into your bloodstream. Malaria can cause severe health problems such as seizures, brain damage, trouble breathing, organ failure, and death if it isn't treated.

Malaria spreads when the mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person infected with malaria. This mosquito then bites someone else and transfers a parasite to the other person's bloodstream, where these parasites multiply. Five kinds of malaria parasites are known to cause illness in humans.

Prevalence and Risk Factors 

Malaria can infect anyone, but young children, older people, and pregnant people are more likely to die from malaria. Some populations are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from malaria, like

Pregnant women

Young children

People over 65 years of age

Individuals with a weak immune system

Individuals who had their spleen removed

In rare cases, pregnant mothers with malaria can transfer the disease to their children before or during birth. In rare cases, it is also possible to pass malaria through blood transfusions, organ donations, and hypodermic needles. People who live in poverty and don't have access to healthcare are also at an elevated risk of developing complications from the disease.

Malaria frequently occurs in tropical areas with hot and humid climates. This infection is prevalent in certain parts of the world, like the tropical regions, including-

large areas of Africa and Asia

Central and South America

Dominican Republic and Haiti

Regions of the Middle East

Places on Pacific islands

Hence, checking for malaria risk in the country you are traveling to is crucial. If so, take medical advice from a doctor at least 4 to 6 weeks before you travel. They may prescribe you precautionary medications to lower the risk of acquiring malaria and offer tips on thwarting mosquito bites.

Sign and Symptoms of Malaria

Depending on the kind of parasite, symptoms can vary in severity. The symptoms usually appear between 7 and 18 days after an infected mosquito has bitten you. However, parasites can sometimes reside in the body for several years without causing symptoms. The signs will start again when the parasites start circulating. The parasites can remain inactive in the liver and may be released years later into your bloodstream. Depending on the variety of parasites, some types of malaria can occur again.

Malaria is suspected when a person shows symptoms such as-

A high temperature with sweats and chills

Headaches 

Feeling of confusion

Tiredness and sleepiness (particularly in children)

A feeling of sickness, stomach-ache, and diarrhea

Appetite loss

Muscle aches

Yellowness in the skin and eyes

A sore throat, cough, and difficulty breathing

The most severe form of malaria, called cerebral malaria, may progress to a coma. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

The doctor will examine your symptoms and travel history to diagnose the condition. They may request a blood test to identify the malaria parasites. This information will help them determine the proper treatment.

It is crucial to start malaria treatment at the earliest possible. The doctor will prescribe medications to destroy the malaria parasite. Some parasites may be resistant to malaria drugs. Medications can completely cure malaria.

Antimalarial drugs can have certain side effects. It is crucial to notify your doctor about other medicines you're taking since antimalarial medications can interfere with them. Side effects of the antimalarial drug may include:

Gastrointestinal (GI) problems like nausea and diarrhea.

Headaches.

Increased sensitivity to sunlight.

Insomnia and disturbing dreams.

Psychological disorders and vision issues.

Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

Seizures.

Anemia.

Precaution and Prevention of Malaria

Take the following precautions before you travel to a country with a higher risk of malaria-

Take the prescribed antimalarial medicine 

Use insect repellent over the skin 

Sleep under mosquito nets that have been sprayed with insecticide.

Wear long-sleeved clothing and trousers to cover most of your skin, especially at night.

Put screens on windows and doors.

A malaria vaccine for children was developed and tested in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi in a pilot program. The RTS, S/AS01 vaccine is effective against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, which induces severe disease in children. Other agencies are working towards developing a malarial vaccine.

Intense research has shown scientists that individuals with sickle cell trait carry some protection against malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum. The sickle shape of the red blood cells traps and destroys the parasites. Studies are still investigating how to apply this information in treating and preventing the disease.

Summary

Malaria is a serious illness but can be prevented by taking simple measures. You can lower your risk of infection by safeguarding yourself from mosquito bites and taking preventive medications. If you're traveling to a region where malaria is common, talk to your doctor several weeks before you leave to get the necessary advice and precautionary doses (critical if you're pregnant).

Early and prompt treatment can help recover malarial illness successfully.

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Mrs. Mayuri Mathur

Mrs. Mayuri Mathur is a Senior Medical Writer (Patient education and digital) and seasoned content creator with a rich tapestry of expertise spanning over ten years. With a diverse background in content creation, she brings a wealth of experience to the table, from crafting insightful medical articles to developing comprehensive patient education materials, dynamic press releases, and captivating brochures and website content. Throughout her illustrious career, she has demonstrated an exceptional knack for distilling complex medical concepts into easily understandable content, making her a trusted resource for both professionals and lay audiences alike. Her meticulous attention to detail and innate creativity have enabled her to deliver content that not only informs but also engages and inspires. Whether elucidating intricate medical procedures or crafting compelling marketing materials, her versatility and dedication shine through in every project she undertakes. Her passion for writing, coupled with her profound understanding, makes her an invaluable asset to any team or project. In a constantly evolving digital landscape, where effective communication is paramount, Mrs. Mayuri Mathur stands out as a beacon of excellence, consistently delivering top-notch content that resonates with audiences across diverse platforms.

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