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Malaria Symptoms

symptoms of malaria

The early symptoms of Malaria are similar to influenza.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease with symptoms that usually show 5-16 days after infection.  The symptoms may vary depending on the type of parasite causing the disease. In areas where malaria is less common, symptoms might be misdiagnosed as flu. Malaria symptoms usually begin within a few weeks after being bitten by a female infected mosquito. In some cases it may take up to a year or even longer before you experience any malaria symptoms.

The incubation period differ depending on the type of infection you have and whether or not you’ve taken any medicines to prevent malaria. It is important to know that you can still get malaria even if you have taken anti-malarial medicines. There are some malarial parasites which enter the body and remain dormant for elongated periods of time.

P.falciparum (uncomplicated) malaria is diagnosed when symptoms are present, but there are no clinical or laboratory signs to indicate a severe infection or the dysfunction of vital organs. Individuals suffering from this form, can eventually develop severe malaria if the disease is left untreated, or if they have compromised or no immunity to the disease.

There are two types of malaria symptoms:

  • uncomplicated
  • severe malaria

Symptoms of uncomplicated malaria:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Cold stage (sense of cold, shivering that can range from severe to moderate)
  • Hot stage (Fever, vomiting, seizures in young children are not uncommon)
  • Profuse sweating (Temperature returns to normal. Tiredness)
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Loss of appetite

Uncomplicated malaria should be treated within 24 hour to avoid progress to severe illness.

Severe malaria is defined by medical or laboratory verification of vital organ dysfunction. Severe malaria can be fatal if left untreated.

Symptoms severe malaria:

  • Anemia
  • High temperatures (fever) and shivering
  • Several convulsions
  • Respiratory distress (deep breathing)
  • Abnormal bleeding (bloody stools)
  • Coma (impaired consciousness)
  • Vital organ dysfunction
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite

Malaria is a serious illness that can exhaust the strength of adults. The symptoms in small children should be monitored closely.

Malaria symptoms in younger children:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Refusal to feed
  • Fever (or shivering)
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Troubled breathing
  • Change in sleeping routine
  • Sweating
  • Fewer diapers (passing less urine)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

In areas where malaria is common, many patients identify the symptoms as malaria and treat themselves without proper medical care.

Some individuals experience malaria attacks that take place every 2 or 3 days. Each attack can last up to 10 hours.

There are three stages of malaria attack:

  • feeling cold and trembling
  • fever and headaches
  • profuse sweating and fatigue

If you are planning to travel to a high-risk malaria area, then it would be advisable to take malarial prevention medication.

It is of utmost importance that you seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of malaria. Prevention is better than cure.

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