Malaria is a parasitic infection that spreads due to a bite from mosquitoes which breed on stagnant water. During monsoons, water tends to pool in all possible places and does not dry off easily. The small roadside ditches, uneven road surfaces and plastic bags, discarded pots, pans, tyres and containers filled with water are the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes to lay eggs on.
WHAT IS MALARIA?
-Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused due to a bite by a female anopheles mosquito infected by the Plasmodium parasite.
-It is also transmitted through blood transfusions or by shared syringes or needles, although its rare.
-Malaria of four kinds in humans is depending on the kind of the infecting malarial parasite.
-The malarial parasite can remain inactive after entering the body for a long time if the person has good immunity.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MALARIA?
-Malaria is typically characterized by high fever, shivering or chills followed by sweating, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, sometimes diarrhoea, headache, body ache
– The symptoms are generally periodical, and occur in cycles of 48 or 72 hours depending on the kind of malaria-parasite one is infected with.
-The cyclical pattern of symptoms is a classical sign of malaria, and prompts the doctor to suspect malaria.
-A doctor who examines the symptoms of the patient and checks for an enlarged liver or spleen, can make an accurate diagnosis.
-A blood test is advised to determine the presence of malaria parasite and confirm the diagnosis.
-Malaria can be lethal and may lead to severe complications and requires hospitalization, if misdiagnosed or not treated in time.
HOW IS MALARIA DIAGNOSED?
-A simple blood test is prescribed to check for the presence of Malaria parasite in the blood.
-The test has a dual function of detecting the parasite as well as the species of malaria that is causing the infection.
-The blood sample is examined on two different slides under the microscope.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
-The medicines prescribed depend on various factors such as the specie of malarial parasite and the severity of the disease.
-Often the doctor, to prevent development of resistance by the parasite and to completely remove the parasite (both active and dormant) from the body, prescribes a combination of drugs.
-The common drugs prescribed to destroy the parasite are chloroquine, doxycycline, lumefantrine, primaquine, artemether, artesunate.
-Drugs like paracetamol, ibuprofen are prescribed to provide relief from pain, fever and bodyaches.
WHAT DIET IS PREFERABLE FOR A PATIENT OF MALARIA?
During the active disease
A diet consisting of juices and very light foods like rice, dal, vegetables with minimal fat content is highly recommended. Fresh seasonal fruits and fresh juices such as mangoes, apples, grapes, grapefruits papaya, and pineapple should also be given.
During the recovery period
A diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, paneer, whole grains and nuts is advised. Tulsi is a natural anti-malarial and a few leaves boiled in water may be given daily along with the allopathic medicines.
A diet rich in protein is recommended to help the body repair the damage the infection has dealt. Cereals, pulses, nuts and meats are a great source of protein. Dark leafy green vegetables that are rich in iron, rice and whole grains should be consumed to help patient get back to normal health.
HOW CAN MALARIA BE PREVENTED?
Malaria destroys the red blood cells in the body, makes the patient anemic and plays havoc with the liver, kidneys and the digestive system as a whole.
-Wear full sleeved clothes outdoors to avoid mosquito bites
-Use mosquito screen on doors and windows.
-Use mosquito repellent cream when going outdoors.
-Avoid leaving stagnant water in pots, plants, etc which can act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Empty water from old pots, coolers, tyres and potholes on the road.
-Spray pesticides like DDT on the possible breeding places of mosquitoes.
-Use bed nets for all members of the family during night time.
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