Malaria, which is caused by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, affects a huge section of the world’s population especially in Africa, South and Central America and Southern Asia. In India, about 20,00,000 people are infected by malaria every year leading to 1,000 deaths. Malaria cases in India account for 70 per cent of infections in South East Asia.
Every year, April 25 is celebrated as World Malaria Day, to consolidate and re-strengthen efforts to control the disease. Malaria has been in existence since the last 1,00,000 years and despite the progress made by science and medicine in controlling the disease, it continues to be the biggest killer of mankind.
On the occasion, Dr Sushila Kataria, Director Internal Medicine, Medanta – The Medicity shares the symptoms of Malaria, along with the preventive measures and diet one needs to follow if infected. The theme for World Malaria Day 2019 is ‘Zero malaria starts with me’.
*High grade fever and chills
*Headache and nausea
*Decreased urine output
*Loss of consciousness
*Vomiting and convulsions
*Blood in stools
*Difficulty in breathing
Symptoms typically take between 10 days to four weeks to emerge. In some it cases can lie dormant for several months which if left untreated can turn fatal.
Malaria can be prevented by mosquito control measures like preventing water stagnation and spraying insecticides in mosquito breeding sites.
Use of mosquito nets, mosquito repellent creams and being fully covered (wearing long-sleeved clothes) are simple but effective steps for controlling the disease.
Travellers can be given medicine for the time they stay in the endemic area.
Diagnosis and treatment
Early diagnosis helps in quick and complete recovery of the patient. The disease can be diagnosed by examining blood samples or by conducting antigen based rapid diagnostic tests.
Treatment of malaria is through anti-malarial medications like Artemisinin, quinine. In some cases, the malaria parasite may be resistant to commonly used drugs.
Complicated cases might also require ICU care, dialysis and ventilator support.
Diet to be followed
*Intake of fruits and pulses should be increased as they provide adequate nutrition. Add foods such as carrot, beetroots, papaya, and citrus fruits – orange, berries, lemon – that are rich in vitamins B and C to boost immunity.
*Take a high protein diet with a combination of carbohydrates to keep your body healthy and functioning. This can be eaten in the form of dal and rice combinations, chapattis with sprouts/dals, dairy products, etc. For non-vegetarians, eggs, meat and poultry are good choices.
*Eating fried and processed foods, junk, oily and spicy foods can aggravate nausea and can disturb the digestion process in the body. They may also lead to diarrhoea.
*High fibre foods like whole grain cereals must be avoided.
*Consumption of caffeine in the form of tea, coffee, cocoa must also be avoided.