What is malaria?
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry around a parasite called plasmodium. These parasites enter the bloodstream after bites from the female anopheles mosquito. Once the parasites get to the bloodstream, they travel to the liver, where they mature. After several days, the matured parasites move out of the liver, back into the bloodstream, and infect the red blood cells.
Within 48 to 72 hours, the parasites in the red blood cell begin to multiply, causing the red blood cells to swell and eventually burst open. This process continues as the parasites begin to infect more red blood cells, causing symptoms that occur in cycles that may last 2 to 3 days at a time.
Typically, malaria is common in places with tropical and subtropical climates where the parasites can live.
Causes of malaria
As stated above, malaria is caused by the bite of an anopheles mosquito infected by the plasmodium parasite. Four types of malaria parasites can infect humans: Plasmodium vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. falciparum.
Malaria parasite propagates through blood and can get from one person to another by
- Organ transplant
- Blood transfusion
- Use of shared needles or syringe
The development of malaria symptoms varies. In some cases, symptoms become visible within 10 days to 4 weeks. In other cases, the parasite stays dormant for a long period, and symptoms may begin to develop several months after infection.
Common symptoms of malaria include:
- High fever
- Shaking chills
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle pain
- Blood stools
- Abdominal pain
Malaria is capable of leading to several life-threatening health issues.
- Accumulation of liquid in the lungs; breathing problems
- Swelling and breakage of blood vessels in the brain
- Kidney, liver, or spleen failure
- Anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Normally, people get malaria treatments from hospitals based on its severity. The doctor will prescribe medication based on the type of parasite you have. In some cases, the parasite might be resistant to the prescription, and you’d need more prescriptions or a totally new prescription.
Common malaria medications contain artemisinin. Artemisinin is obtained from Artemisia annua, a plant also known as sweet wormwood. This plant is made up of compounds that rapidly decrease the concentration of Plasmodium parasites in the bloodstream. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) to treat uncomplicated cases. Doctors often partner artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) with other drugs. ACT is aimed to rapidly reduce the concentration of Plasmodium parasites in the bloodstream within the first three days, while the partner drug eliminates the rest.
Presently, there is no vaccine to totally prevent malaria. While malaria isn’t endemic, it is advised to speak with your doctor when planning to travel. The doctor may provide medication that should be taken before, during, and after the trip. This only keeps the number of plasmodium in the body at bay for a short while.
For a long-term trip or travel, also talk to your doctor. He may provide some drugs to use in case of malaria infection. This is to ensure that you don’t purchase counterfeit drugs abroad. Sleeping under a mosquito net is also a sure way to decrease the chances of being infected. Another prevention is the use of mosquito repellents or bug sprays, preferably the ones containing DEET.
Some home remedies
In addition to medications, few home remedies have shown promising effects against the symptoms of malaria. Such remedies include:
⁃ Cinnamon: Known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, cinnamon helps deal with certain malaria symptoms. Although it doesn’t fully cure malaria, it reduces the effects of malaria on the body. Add cinnamon and black pepper powder in hot water and mix with honey. Drink this twice a day.
⁃ Turmeric: Touted as the power spice. Turmeric helps flush out harmful toxins from the body, including plasmodium parasites. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric help reduce muscle and joint pains, which are the symptoms of malaria. A glass of turmeric milk will do the trick.
⁃ Orange juice: Orange juice is loaded with vitamin C, which helps develop the immune system. A stronger immune system gives less chances of developing malaria
⁃ Ginger: Ginger provides relief from pain and nausea. Hot water with ginger slices is a good option
⁃ Lime juice: It provides similar benefits as orange juice. It increases the strength of the body’s immune system.
⁃ Apple cider vinegar: Reduces fever. Dilute in warm water, soak a clean washcloth in it, and place it on the forehead.
⁃ Mustard oil: Cooking with mustard oil can help fight infections, including malaria.
Although these remedies lack scientific research to confirm their efficacy, reviews from users have been promising with no recorded side effects. However, it’s best to meet your doctor when you develop any of the symptoms we mentioned.