Malaria: Causes, symptoms and treatments

There are some known deadly diseases which are spreading and counting on the number of deaths every year, and Malaria is one of them. It is a life-threatening blood disease which is caused by parasites transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito. Anopheles mosquito is the reason behind the disease which transfuses the parasites in the blood of the human while biting them.

Once it comes in contact with the blood, these parasites multiply in numbers and attack the liver of the human while infecting it. It will lower down the count of red blood cells in the body thereby losing the intensity of regenerating the red blood cells.

It is a whole procedure which takes almost 48 to 72 hours for the parasites to fully mature. Once they will enter the body, it is a long journey to the liver of the body. In a scientific language, it is known as Plasmodium parasite whose symptoms mostly occur in a cycle that lasts two or three days at a time.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), there are more than 3.2 billion people at the risk of being infected by the disease and it mostly occurs in tropical and subtropical climates which are the best for them to survive. In the single year of 2015, more than 210 million cases of malaria were registered which occurred worldwide. According to scientists and doctors, there are 100 types of Plasmodium parasites which infect different species and have different symptoms which vary with the conditions. Within that 100 species, there are five types of parasites which infect humans and they are

  • P. Falciparum – It has its effects mainly in Africa region, but also seen in tropical and suburban areas around the world. It mainly affects the brain of the patient causing cerebral malaria.
  • P. Vivax – mostly found in Latin America, Africa, and Asia which mainly affects the liver of the human. It shows its symptoms in months or even takes years to fully mature the parasites.
  • P. Ovale – mostly found in the African region and has similar properties like P. Vivax but restricted towards the region.
  • P. Malariae – It has a three-day cycle and has a long-lasting chronic infection on the whole body of the person.
  • P. Knowlesi – specifically located in Southeast Asia and there are many fatal cases reported with infection spreads with a 24-hour cycle.

Causes of Malaria

Malaria is only caused by the bites from the female Anopheles mosquito which infects the body by the parasite known as Plasmodium. It is region oriented as the parasite needs humidity and optimum temperature for the development of the body. Once the person is bitten by the mosquito, it takes almost 5-16 days to get multiplied in numbers and there might be no symptoms of the disease. An infected person is the carriage of malaria as an unaffected mosquito becomes infected once it feeds on the person.


According to CDC, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease is classified into two categories uncomplicated and severe malaria. Uncomplicated malaria can turn into severe if left untreated as it causes dysfunction of many vital organs and affects the immunity of the body. The common symptoms of both the categories are:

Uncomplicated Malaria

  • The infected person will shiver from cold with cold sensations
  • There will be common problems like fever, headaches, and vomiting
  • The temperature of the body will be high for some time and will come back to normal. The person often sweats with the feeling of shivering.

Severe Malaria

  • Fever and chills which are common with uncomplicated malaria
  • Consciousness which is impaired
  • Problem while breathing as it will be deep and result in respiratory distress
  • Multiple convulsions
  • Abnormal bleeding and signs of amenia
  • Malaria can cause jaundice as it cause dysfunctionality of many vital organs including liver
  • Untreated malaria can cause coma
  • Bloody stools
  • The whole body will be in severe pain especially muscle tracts
  • Nausea is one the symptom
  • Diarrhea

Diagnosis of Malaria

There are tests which can prove the severity of the disease as the doctor should be aware of your medical history to understand it more briefly. A physical exam will check the condition of the liver with other symptoms during the blood tests which will prove:

  • Are you suffering from malaria or not
  • What type of malaria and the actual condition of the liver
  • Real properties of the parasites and how will they react to the medication
  • Are your other organs infected or not.

Complications of Malaria

It is a deadly disease as it can cause many life-threatening complications to the whole body and they are

  • It causes swelling in the blood vessels which goes to the brain resulting in cerebral malaria
  • The blood sugar levels will be lower than the expected ratio
  • Vital organ failures like kidneys, liver, or spleen
  • There will be the presence of fluid in the liver which makes it difficult while breathing causing problems or pulmonary edema
  • Immune system of the body will be affected, inviting other diseases to attack
  • Anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells

Treatment of Malaria

There is a treatment which can be implemented with the admission in the hospital under the observance of specialized doctors. Proper medication should be taken during the process as there are parasites which are resistant to drugs and need to be changed with the regular observations.

Till now, there is no vaccination available for preventing the disease as there are on-going researches and studies which are working in the same direction. There are certain ways to cure it but no ways to prevent it permanently.

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