What is it?
Malaria is an infection caused by any of four different species of the Plasmodium parasite, passed on by the bite of an infected mosquito. Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is life threatening. Infants, the elderly and those with lower levels of immunity are at greater risk.
What are the symptoms?
- A slow rising fever that escalates to a rapid temperature rise and fall.
- Excessive sweating.
- Generally feeling unwell.
The typical symptoms of malaria described above can lead to further symptoms and complications in the case of P. falciparum infection, including:
- Coagulation defects (blood does not clot).
- Rupture of the spleen.
- Haemolytic anaemia (the red cells do not live a normal life span).
- Kidney failure.
- Liver failure.
- Pulmonary oedema.
- Cerebral malaria, producing coma.
What to expect?
If you are diagnosed with malaria, you can consider discussing the following subjects with your doctor:
- Blood tests and smears are usually confirmatory tests for malaria. Will you be needing these tests?
- What are your treatment options?
- Once treatment is successful, what precautionary measure will you need to avoid contracting the disease again?
In addition to treatment by your doctor you can try the following things:
- Pain relievers might help in relieving pain and fever.
- Eat healthy.
- Drink plenty of water.
Seek immediate help if the following occurs:
- Symptoms are worsening.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Yellow skin or jaundiced.
- Bleeding in any part of the body.