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How to Recognize Malaria Symptoms

A parasite called Plasmodium causes disease Malaria. Mosquitoes carry and transmit the parasite to humans. Malaria is a severe issue for global health and the aid sector and there are many NGOs fighting this disease. Also, humanitarian travelers are often exposed to the risk of contracting malaria due to the regions they travel to. 

As such, we want to discuss some of the symptoms of malaria and how to recognize them. Note that you should immediately contact your healthcare professional if you believe that you might have malaria.

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General malaria symptoms

We talked about what Malaria is in our earlier post. Malaria may present with a variety of different symptoms. Many of these are similar to regular flu or other mosquito-borne diseases. These include fever, chill, headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle pain and fatigue. Also, a person with malaria might feel chest or abdominal pain, experience sweating, or have a cough.

Frequently, malaria is rapidly diagnosed in areas where it is prevalent. However, travelers returning to their homes may have a harder time identifying malaria. Always tell your doctor that you have visited a malaria-affected area if you have the symptoms.

Symptoms of severe malaria

In some cases, malaria might progress to severe malaria. If so, the patient may experience physical and neurological issues. A person may suffer from multiple convulsions, have problems breathing, show signs of abnormal bleeding or anemia and adopt a prone position. They may also have impaired consciousness, clinical jaundice, and even evidence of vital organ dysfunction.

If this happens, it is imperative to consult a healthcare professional and go to the hospital immediately. Malaria can and often lead to death outcomes.

Malaria-related complications

For most patients, malaria presents similarly to severe flu and passes. However, some may suffer long-term complications. One of these is cerebral malaria, where a parasite-filled blood cell blocks small blood vessels in the brain. This can lead to seizures or coma.

Malaria can also lead to long-term breathing problems. This is due to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Further, malaria may cause organ failure, including the kidney or liver failure, or spleen rupture. These can be life-threatening.

Also, malaria complications may present as anemia, as the parasite damages red blood cells. Another malaria-related complication is low blood sugar. This may either be caused by malaria itself or by quinine, one of the most common malaria medications.

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At risk groups for malaria complications

There are four groups of people who are the most at risk for malaria complications. Young children, infants, and older adults are vulnerable due to their lower immunity. Pregnant women and unborn children are also at a higher risk. Notably, because malaria can be transferred from mother to unborn child.

Lastly, travelers are an additional risk group for malaria complications. Since they may experience malaria symptoms upon their return, malaria often takes a while to diagnose in areas where it is rare. As such, it goes untreated and can lead to complications.

Malaria and travel – when should I be worried?

You may be exposed to malaria if you are traveling to a subtropical or tropical climate. African countries south of the Sahara Desert, the Asian subcontinent, New Guinea, Dominican Republic, and Haiti are home to the malaria parasites known to lead to most complications. This means that you should take extra precautions when traveling to these areas.

Also, it is essential to keep in mind that malaria has a lengthy incubation period. It can last from 7 to 30 days, so you may return home before you experience any symptoms. Some types of malaria parasites can be dormant in your body for up to a year. Further, some types of malaria may present in cycles, causing some malaria attacks over time.

Malaria; everything you need to know

Understanding this disease is an essential part of the global health and humanitarian community for the reason that malaria disease affects millions of people annually. Therefore it is vital to continue to take a stand against this disease and help people all around the world. If this article was of interest, you might also be interested in other items on this disease; ‘everything you need to know about malaria disease.’

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