Understanding Malaria: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Dr. Dinesh Patel

Malaria is a life-threatening disease, primarily spread by the bite of an infected mosquito (Anopheles) carrying the plasmodium parasite. When this mosquito bites you, the parasite enters your body and moves to your liver, where they grow.



Malaria is a life-threatening disease, primarily spread by the bite of an infected mosquito (Anopheles) carrying the plasmodium parasite. When this mosquito bites you, the parasite enters your body and moves to your liver, where they grow. The adult parasites enter the bloodstream and start infecting red blood cells (RBCs) after several days. The malarial parasites inside the red blood cells grow within 48 to 72 hours, causing the infected cells to rupture.

Most of the world’s poor, tropical, and subtropical regions also have malaria. Malaria can cause serious illness and incapacitating conditions, especially in some South American and South Asian nations, where it is a less common cause of mortality. According to CDC, approximately 241 million clinical episodes and 627,000 deaths were attributed to malaria in 2020. In 2020, the WHO African Region was predicted to account for 95% of deaths.


To curb this deadly disease, it is important to understand the causes of malaria symptoms, and treatment options, which we will discuss in the blog.

II. Causes of Malaria

The following are considered the primary cause of malaria –

Plasmodium Parasites (Types & Transmission) : If a mosquito carrying the Plasmodium parasite bites you, it might result in malaria. Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium ovale are the four types of malaria parasites that can infect people. P. falciparum causes a more serious version of the illness, and people who catch it have a higher risk of dying from it. Anopheles mosquitoes as vectors : About 30 to 40 of the 430 Anopheles mosquito species that are known to exist in the world are vectors (transmitters). They are found throughout the planet, except Antarctica. Although widespread in all regions, Anopheles species is particularly prevalent in the country’s warmer southern regions.

Geographic and environmental factors : The likelihood of contracting malaria significantly rises if one lives in a malaria-prone area. Travellers who visit areas where malaria is common run the risk of contracting the disease, especially since those who have not previously been exposed to the illness have not built up an immunity to it. Also, a lack of protective clothes, exposed sleeping quarters, a lack of insect repellent, and a lack of preventive medication are some variables that enhance exposure to malaria.

III. Symptoms of Malaria

The symptoms come in cycles that last two to three days at a time when the parasites continue to attack red blood cells. Below are some of the symptoms of malaria you must keep an eye on –

  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cough and rapid breathing
  • Diarrhoea and a general feeling of discomfort

IV. Diagnosis of Malaria

The concerned doctor will go through your medical history, including any recent trips you may have taken to a tropical location, during your visit. The following are the tests done to confirm if you have malaria and rule out any other disease or medical condition –

Blood tests (microscopy, rapid diagnostic tests) to confirm the diagnosis Medical history and physical examination to check your liver and spleen V. Treatment Options for Malaria The following are the malaria disease treatment options –

Antimalarial Medications : The most typical drugs used to treat malaria include Chloroquine, Quinine, Primaquine, Doxycycline, Intravenous (IV) Artesunate, and Artemisinin-based combination therapy. This is considered the best treatment for malaria. To reduce recurrence and persistent infections brought on by drug resistance, the doctors might give you a combination of drugs. Based on several factors, your healthcare professional will choose the best drug for you.

Drug Resistance and Alternative Medications : A few over-the-counter drugs can assist with some symptoms of malaria, but they cannot treat the infection or stop complications. You can try the painkillers and anti-fever medication that your doctor has prescribed. Prevention of Complications and Supportive Care : The best method of combating malaria is its prevention. You can employ a variety of tactics, such as Prophylaxis, to protect yourself from malaria while visiting a region where you may be exposed to the disease. The next thing you can always keep with yourself is mosquito-repellant sprays and body cover to ensure you are exposed.

VI. Prevention & Control Measures

If you are living or visiting a place where malaria is prevalent, it is important to take preventive measures and control to ensure you are safe. Some of the tips are as below –

Mosquito control strategies (insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying) : Plant-based indoor residual spraying is the best option since plants are recognised as a secure and effective approach to warding off mosquito bites (plant-based “natural” smelling repellents are presently utilised extensively across the globe). Many plant volatiles are likely to be insect deterrents or repellents due to their high vapour toxicity. Also, insecticide-treated nets are best for keeping malaria-inducing mosquitos away.

Chemoprophylaxis for travellers to endemic areas : Chemoprophylaxis is one of the best options to carry around while travelling, as malaria drugs for all regions vary. Also, ensure to consult a doctor before taking any drugs or medication.

Vaccines and ongoing research : Children who reside in nations with a high prevalence of malaria cases are advised to take a malaria vaccination, as per the World Health Organization norms. Researchers are working to create and investigate new malaria vaccinations to avoid infection with high efficiency.

VII. High-Risk Areas & Travel Considerations While you are travelling, you must understand and know the regions where malaria is prevalent, and if you are confused, you can check the up-to-date map issued by CDC.

Malaria Endemic Regions : It is advisable to avoid areas or regions that have a high malaria rate. The location of malaria is mostly influenced by environmental elements like temperature, humidity, and rainfall, which are tropical and subtropical regions. Anopheles mosquitoes can endure, reproduce, and allow malaria parasites to go through the full life cycle inside of them. The highest transmission occurs in Africa (the south side of the Sahara), southeast Asia, Indonesia, regions like Papua New Guinea, etc.

Pre-travel Preparations & Precautions : If you are travelling to any such region, it is advisable to carry your preventive measures, such as mosquito net, mosquito-repellant spray, and antimalarial medication (as prescribed by the doctors), to ensure your safety. Moreover, try to stay in closed places and avoid sitting or sleeping in open places without mosquito repellant spray or creams.

VIII. Conclusion

Malaria is caused by the anopheles mosquito and is even transmitted from the mother to the baby during birth – which is known as congenital malaria. Though malaria has been eradicated in many temperate regions, including Western Europe and the United States, the possibility of malaria reintroduction exists in most of these regions since Anopheles mosquitoes can spread the disease there. So, in malaria-prone regions such as Africa, the WHO emphasises early diagnosis, which can help in early malaria disease treatment. Thus, you must seek medical help whenever necessary.

Also, if you are looking for the best doctors for malaria in Hyderabad, visit Omni Hospitals, as we aim to provide a precise diagnosis and effective treatment options to our patients with utmost care and compassion. Our highly trained doctors and other medical staff are always available to assist you in recovering from the disease.

Other Blogs