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You have malaria, now what?

malariamalaria
malariamalaria

You have malaria, now what?

Malaria is a disease transmitted via female Anopheles mosquitoes and is caused by the Plasmodium, single-celled, parasite. But, more shockingly, it’s a disease that kills over one million people every year. Unfortunately, a large portion of Africa’s countries are high-risk malaria zones.

 

Make sure it is, in fact, malaria

It seems pretty obvious, but you need to make sure that what you have is, indeed, malaria and not something else representing malaria-like symptoms. And it’s important to be sure because it will affect your treatment. You also don’t want to be in a position where you mistake it for something else, don’t get the correct treatment and have it progress.

The following symptoms of malaria will give you an idea of what to look out for and also what to be sure of as they are common with other illnesses as well. In most cases, these symptoms will start presenting themselves within a few weeks of being bitten by a mosquito. Also, depending on which malaria parasite you’re infected with, these symptoms may occur in a cyclic manner of either every 24-hour, 48-hour or 72-hour cycles.

  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue

 

Seek medical advice

You can understand the problem of malaria being mistaken as something else, but you can easily put the pieces together for yourself. You were in a high-risk malaria area, you didn’t have preventative medication or mosquito repellent and now you’re experiencing malaria-type symptoms.

Go to your doctor and seek medical advice before things get worse. The ideal way to beat malaria is to catch it early and get started on treatment as soon as possible. They will also need to conduct a blood test to diagnose and determine exactly which strain of Plasmodium it is (Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax being the most common of the four types) because that will affect the treatment and prescribed medication.


Commit to your treatment plan

And when you start your treatment, you need to commit to your treatment plan. Many strains of malaria are already immune to preventative medication and the attempt to eradicate malaria from your body will only have a chance of success if you fight it properly. Missing a dosage of medication could build its resistance towards that medication and then you’re left with a stronger, more difficult to get rid of, case of malaria.

 

The common medications used (in conjunction with the specific malarial parasite) are:

  • Chloroquine (Aralen)
  • Quinine sulfate (Qualaquin)
  • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
  • Mefloquine
  • Combination of atovaquone and proguanil (Malarone)
  • Artesunate

Some natural products that you can take along with your medication to help with the symptoms include things like ginger, citrus fruits and cinnamon. Don’t rely on these naturally combatting products to kill the malaria parasite alone, they are merely additional aids for your immune system.

 

Look out for signs of progression

What you do need to keep an eye out for while you’re undergoing the healing process (or obliviously going through the motion of symptoms without treatment) is if things start progressing and getting worse. This is where malaria gets its death-toll from – resistant parasites and untreated symptoms that lead to serious health complications.

As malaria parasites target your red blood cells, they eventually destroy your red blood cells, which can lead to progressive symptoms and issues. The Plasmodium falciparum strain generally has these severe effects on the human body and can lead to organ damage – which is why malaria can be a life-threatening disease.

Prepare yourself to be booked off for up to three weeks if you catch it in time and have no issues with the recommended treatment. Your main concern is to recover and rid your body of the parasite.

 

Medical advances for malaria in Africa

If you look at the statistics, between 2010 and 2017 there has been a 37% drop in mortality rates (as a result of malaria) of children under the age of five years old. This statistic is significant when you consider that 70% of the 440 000 deaths in 2016, were children under the age of five.

Africa seems to have the worst cases of malaria and there is a global effort working towards treatment and vaccination advancements. There currently is a malaria vaccine, Mosquirix (RTS,S/AS01) due to begin this year. And there are new advances in malaria treatment that will, hopefully, sort out the drug resistance problems.

So if you were wondering “what is the treatment for malaria in Africa”, well, now you know. It’s pretty much the same all around the world, but it’s necessary for everyone to get involved as everyone can be affected by it. Next time you go visiting in a high-risk area, be sure to take all the preventative medication, keep yourself smelling as fresh as a can of Peaceful Sleep and have those mosquito nets protecting you at night.

malaria