Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. Malaria is more common in countries with warm, humid weather such as India, Bangladesh, Congo, Brazil, and Kenya. A parasite called Plasmodium causes malaria, and it is transmitted into the body when infected mosquitos bite you. Once inside the body, the parasite multiplies in the liver and begins to infect the red blood cells. Symptoms of malaria do not appear immediately. It takes almost ten to fifteen days for the first symptoms of malaria to appear. If not treated early, malaria can quickly become a life-threatening problem. Here is a list of ten common symptoms of malaria:
Fever and Chills
Fever is the first and most common symptom of malaria. Technically, fever is a factor when the body’s temperature rises above 38 degrees C, 100.4 degrees F. Normal body temperature for a human being is 37 degrees C, 98.6 degrees F. This increase in temperature is a natural defense mechanism of the body against bacteria and viruses that cannot survive at a higher temperature. During a bout of malaria, the body temperature may rise to 40 degrees Celsius. Chills almost always accompany fevers. Getting chills is another defense mechanism of the body. Due to shivering and shaking, muscle activity increases, which increases the body temperature even more.
A headache is such a common symptom for diseases that almost all infections list as one. Most of the times a headache is just that – a headache. Typically, headaches occur due to overactivity of or problems with the pain-sensitive structures within the head such as blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. But if it is accompanied by an underlying infection, then take it very seriously. In the case of malaria, a headache can be caused by malaria itself or could be the consequence of other symptoms of the condition.
It is uncommon to think of seizure or convulsion as a symptom of malaria, but it is much more widespread than one might think and is also a frightening sign. A seizure is a sudden abnormal electrical activity in the brain which may result in loss of consciousness along with contraction of muscles. The intensity of a seizure is dependent on where the source of the electrical disturbance is and whether it reaches the brain or not. Convulsion is the abnormal movement of the whole body and is usually the result of a seizure.
Often a person who is suffering from malaria will experience convulsions where his or her body will shake uncontrollably, and the muscle will tighten and relax repeatedly. Some of the symptoms of convulsions are feeling dizzy, having a sudden feeling of anxiousness, experiencing serious and painful headaches, going through an out of body sensation, having a weird taste in the mouth, drooling continuously, rapid eye movements, and losing control of the bladder and bowel.
Diarrhea can happen for various reasons, especially due to gastrointestinal infections. If it occurs when infected with malaria, it leads to a diagnosis of complicated malaria, which means it is quite dangerous. During diarrhea, your bowel movements become loose and watery. A lot of fluid is lost through watery stools, especially if it happens more than three times a day. People with bouts of diarrhea should drink lots of water and other liquids to counter this dangerous loss of fluids.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea is the unpleasant sensation where the stomach wants to empty itself. Vomiting is the result of nausea which involves the stomach almost turning itself inside out to forcefully eject food and other contents through the mouth. During malaria, a person may vomit several times a day. This may cause retching or “dry heaving” which means vomiting on an empty stomach and only clear fluids are thrown up.
Anemia is a condition when a deficiency of red blood cells in the body leads to drowsiness or exhaustion. People with anemia can become tired very quickly. Although anemia does occur naturally in the bodies of some people, it can also be a symptom of malaria. All types of malaria do include some level of anemia. Factors such as age, pregnancy and acquired resistance vary the severity of anemia. Malaria combined with anemia is very harmful and dangerous for babies and pregnant women.
Jaundice occurs due to the substantial loss of red blood cells and causes yellowing of the skin and the white areas of the eyes. The buildup of a substance called bilirubin causes the yellow color. Bilirubin is a waste product that should be eliminated from the body. An increase in red blood cells and iron is required to treat jaundice. Intake of iron-rich foods like red meat, beans, and some seafood can alleviate jaundice.
Malaria causes muscle pain where the disease affects the soft tissues of the body. It will cause pain in deep muscles, and along with that, a person will also suffer from loss of sleep, fatigue, and anxiety. They may experience morning stiffness and numbness or tingling sensations in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. The tender points of the body will hurt with the slightest movement. A person will also experience irritable bowel syndrome and pain in their urinary system. They can experience sharp, throbbing and deep pain throughout their entire body.
One of the early symptoms of malaria is blood in the stools. This is also known as rectal bleeding, where red blood mixes with stool. Depending on the period of the disease, rectal bleeding can be moderate or severe. At times, a significant amount of thick red blood mixes with stool and blood clots, and the person will eventually feel faint. The blood pressure can decrease rapidly, and the person becomes very weak physically. If the individual loses too much blood with stool, he or she must be taken to the hospital immediately, and the person will be supplied with a blood transfusion.