Malaria Symptoms You Cannot Ignore

November 12, 2012

Malaria Symptoms You Cannot Ignore

Malaria is a potentially lethal disease spread by biting insects like mosquitoes. This one disease is responsible for at least one million people each year. Malaria is usually found in tropical countries, including those in Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, India, South America and Latin America. If you are planning to travel, check to see if you need malaria shots before entering. If you have visited any of these countries in the last two years and experience the symptoms of malaria, go to a doctor immediately. Symptoms of malaria begin at differing times for each person. They can start as soon as a week after being bitten but can appear as long as two years after being bitten. Although there have been some recorded cases of malaria appearing more than two years after a bite, usually it appears from 9 days to 18 months after being bitten. First Symptoms of Malaria The early symptoms of malaria may be confused with a virus or influenza. These symptoms are caused by parasites that lived inside of a mosquito. Once in a human’s bloodstream, they multiply rapidly. Early symptoms include:

  • Fever over 101 degrees F

  • Profuse sweating because of the fever

  • Chills or incontrollable shaking

  • Bloody feces or bloody diarrhea

  • Anemia if having bloody stools

  • Severe headache

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Pain in the muscles

  • Back pain

  • Constantly coughing but not bringing up mucus

  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes

The last symptom is caused by an enlargement of the liver. A doctor can quickly determine an enlarged liver just with a simple hands-on diagnosis. Sometimes people with symptoms of malaria have an enlarged spleen instead of an enlarged liver. During the early stages, patients may experience symptoms of malaria intermittently and falsely believe they have been cured, only to have the symptoms come right back. A simple blood test can confirm a malaria diagnosis, but they may take 6 to 12 hours for a lab to process. A doctor may decide to begin treatment for malaria before the results are in depending on how bad the patient is. Treatment includes an IV drip of medications like doxycycline, chloroquine or mefloquine. There are five known main types of malaria but not all types can be treated with the same medications. The lab blood test can determine which type the malaria is. Later Symptoms of Malaria If a patient has not gone to a doctor by this time, the patient is in big trouble. Malaria caught in tropical Africa is considered to be the deadliest. Malaria left untreated causes potentially deadly symptoms such as:

  • An infection of the brain known as cerebral malaria

  • Meningitis

  • Ruptured spleen

  • Ruptured kidney or kidneys

  • Liver failure

  • Kidney failure

  • Fluid in the lungs which can choke

  • Drop in low blood sugar

  • Coma

  • Rapid destruction of blood cells without any new cells to replace the dead ones.

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