How Is Malaria Treated

A life-threatening disease like malaria is treatable. It can be cured with the help of antimalarial drugs. The healthcare provider will prescribe antimalarial drugs based on the type of parasites that has caused the infection. Other factors such as age, severity, and general health are also taken into consideration while prescribing an appropriate medicine and suitable dose for treating the infection.  

The earlier you get the disease treated, the lesser will be the health damage and the growth of the malarial parasites can also be inhibited effectively. The drug will start killing off the malarial parasites and eliminate them from the bloodstream.

Types of malarial parasites

Malaria infection happens due to plasmodium parasites. These parasites enter the bloodstream through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito, or other ways, and they get to the liver. They grow there and multiply asexually and re-enter the bloodstream.  

Plasmodium parasites are categorized into five different types, that include – P. vivax, P. knowlesi, P. malariae, P. ovale, and P. falciparum. Out of these five plasmodium species, P-falciparum and P. vivax are considered to pose the greatest health risk, as they grow and multiply aggressively and their inhibition is not quite easy. They require powerful antimalarial drugs, and the treatment must typically begin within 24 hours, otherwise, their rapid progression can even lead to death.

Malaria diagnosis

Your healthcare provider will perform a diagnosis of malaria by conducting your physical examination, analyzing your medical history, and asking you detailed questions regarding your travel history and symptoms. They will ask you to get a blood test done. Which is necessary to detect the presence of plasmodium parasites and confirm malaria. The test results will also reveal the type of plasmodium parasite that has led to the infection.

After obtaining these necessary details, your healthcare provider will begin the appropriate treatment. In some cases, the parasites that have caused the infection might be resistant to the drug. There is a risk of serious health complications because of some types of parasites that remain resistant to the antimalarial drug prescribed. Such a case requires utter care and immediate treatment, for the healthcare provider will prescribe more than one antimalarial drug to manage the condition in an effective way.     

Malaria treatment

According to the Mayo Clinic, the antimalarial drugs prescribed by your healthcare provider to kill off the parasites will depend on the various factors that are listed below:

  • Age – The dose and type of antimalarial drug will be different for children, adults, and older individuals.
  • Type of parasite – Some types of parasites might fail to respond to the treatment and multiply and continue causing damage, therefore, it is necessary to use a specific type of drug for treating specific parasites.  
  • Severity – The dose and regimen of antimalarial will depend on the severity of the symptoms.
  • Pregnancy – Pregnant women need to be very careful. The treatment will differ among them.

Based on the various factors, an appropriate drug will be prescribed which will inhibit the growth and multiplication of the parasites. Moreover, The parasites affect the red blood cells. They enter inside the red blood cells and multiply. They cause damage to red blood cells, which affects their count in the bloodstream.

Red blood cells supply oxygen to all the tissues in the body. Lack of red blood cells deprives the body of adequate oxygen, which can give rise to various symptoms. But this can be prevented with the help of medications.

As per the Mayo Clinic, some common types of antimalarial drugs prescribed are:

Chloroquine phosphate

This drug helps in killing off the malarial parasites and preventing them from causing any further damage to health. However, they might not be effective on all types of plasmodium parasites.

Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs)

This method is adopted when the malarial parasites resist the chloroquine drugs. This therapy involves a combination of two or more drugs that work on the parasites to kill them.

These are just common drugs, there are other drugs that can destroy the parasites and prevent health harm. The drugs can eliminate the risk of malaria complications.

When to see the doctor

If you have recently been to a place or country where a condition like malaria is common and you are experiencing some symptoms of it, then you must see your doctor almost immediately. When symptoms like fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, discomfort, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, abdominal pain, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and dizziness, appear, then do not wait for it to get any more severe, talk to your doctor.               

Note that malaria can also get transmitted by blood transfusion, organ transplantation, sharing of needles and medical equipment, and from mother to child during pregnancy. One must remain always careful and adopt safety measures for the prevention of malaria.   

Malaria prevention

You can indeed prevent malaria by implementing some effective techniques that are recommended by the WHO, they are as follows:  

  • During nighttime, use a mosquito net around your bed, which will keep the mosquitoes away while you sleep.  
  • Use mosquito repellents that contain DEET, IR3535, or Icaridin.
  • Do not wear clothes that expose too much skin, bare skin is prone to mosquito bites.    
  • Use window screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your house.

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