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Malaria: Types, Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Malaria is one of the most dreaded diseases. Found mostly in tropical and subtropical countries, it occurs when the malaria parasite, Plasmodium, infects the mosquito, Anopheles. When the malaria mosquito bites humans, within a period of seven to 15 days the malaria symptoms occur. The disease does not prove to be fatal if caught on time unless the patient has cerebral malaria which has a high mortality rate. However, there are now different types of malaria, and each may need different malaria treatment approaches.Malaria symptoms vary depending on the subspecies of the Plasmodium that has infected the Anopheles mosquito. Based on the malaria parasite, there are four different types of malaria. Each of these has a different severity of symptoms and needs to be treated differently- the same antimalaria medicines used in various permutations and combinations with other drugs. Here is a list of different kinds of malaria disease.

Plasmodium Vivax (P.v)

This is the most common kind of malaria. It is the most widely distributed kind, found all across the globe. More than half of malaria infections found across India are of this type. More often than not, it does not prove fatal but can be severely debilitating. Common symptoms of this kind of malaria disease include fever and chills, diarrhoea, severe fatigue and flu-like symptoms. Malaria medication is the line of treatment that doctors follow.

Plasmodium Ovale (P.o)

This is one of the least common types of malaria. It is found mostly in western countries ofAfrica, Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia. The symptoms include high fevers and shaking chills, joint pain, diarrhoea, and body ache. This malaria disease has a knack for recurring as the parasite rests in the patient’s liver and can stay dormant for up to four years. The relapse can occur at any time during this period. The red blood cells get attacked, and the infection occurs again. Antimalaria medicines need to be given extensively to avoid recurrence. Among the types of malaria, this one is dangerous if not deadly.

Plasmodium Falciparum (P.f)

This is the most deadly kind of malaria in the world. This subspecies of the parasite is found in Africa, South East Asia, and South America. The patient feels the malaria symptoms like nausea, fatigue, body aches, enlarged spleen, pain in the abdomen, muscles, and joints, fever, headaches, anaemia and specific neurological symptoms like confusion and seizures. The severity and the reputation of this malaria disease are such that it needs to be checked for, diagnosed and treated in time to prevent fatalities. It is specifically detrimental to the brain and the nervous system. Paralysis and convulsions can also occur because of this malaria. If you are travelling to any of the above areas, take your antimalaria medications to prevent this disease. In most cases, a malaria vaccine is given.

Plasmodium malariae (P.m)

This is the least common kind of malaria. Fever and chills are the usual malaria symptoms. The prevalence of this type is less than one per cent in the Indian subcontinent. South America, South-East Asia, and Africa are where the malaria parasite causing this kind of malaria is present. The treatment includes malaria medication in combination with other drugs.Also Read: Foods That Kill Parasites in Humans: A Comprehensive, Research-Based Guide

How to Prevent Malaria  

While you may think it’s impossible to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito, malaria prevention methods are widely known and accepted. Here are a few:  
  • Avoidance: If you can avoid travelling to an area where malaria is common, then do that. This may mean changing your travel plans, but if you can’t avoid it then read on.
  • Medication: There are standard medications you can take if you are planning to travel to a country where malaria is a risk. Usually, these are mandatory for getting your visa.  
  • Personal Protection: You can use mosquito-specific repellant sprays as well as topical creams and lotions. Topical products that contain DEET are confirmed to be effective at keeping mosquitos away. Another easy way of protecting yourself is to wear clothing that covers the skin of your arms and legs.  
  • Added Protection: Use mosquito nets to cover your sleeping area, you can also put up screens at doorways and windows to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside. Lastly, be sure to use products that contain permethrin when washing or cleaning any of the above protective gear.  
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.Links and product recommendations in the information provided here are advertisements of third-party products available on the website. PharmEasy does not make any representation on the accuracy or suitability of such products/services. Advertisements do not influence the editorial decisions or content. The information in this blog is subject to change without notice. The authors and administrators reserve the right to modify, add, or remove content without notification. It is your responsibility to review this disclaimer regularly for any changes.  
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