The Life-Threatening Complications of Malaria

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As compared to other infectious diseases, malaria has been the culprit behind most deaths in the human history. It’s alarming how a single mosquito bite can cost someone their life. This tropical disease is a result of infection spread by mosquitoes. The only way to survive it is early diagnosis and prompt treatment.

The disease starts affecting when the parasite starts moving in the body and reaches the liver. This is where they mature. The parasites then start affecting red blood cells in our body and stick to blood vessel walls.

Early diagnosis is the only way to treat this life-threatening disease in time. It is important to be aware of the symptoms before it is too late. The key is to be more conscious and identify the symptoms. The most common ones include:

  • High temperature (fever)
  • Vomiting
  • Sweats and chills
  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea

It takes between seven and eighteen days for the infection to show symptoms. However, in some cases, the symptoms may not be prominent at all. The complications of malaria pose a great risk to life and can occur within hours of the early symptoms. If you notice the symptoms, seek professional medical assistance without delay.

Life-threatening complications associated with malaria include:


As mentioned earlier, the Plasmodium falciparum parasite destroys red blood cells. Shortage of RBCs over time leads to anemia.

Anemia causes the RBCs to lose their strength and functionality, so they are not able to carry oxygen through the organs and muscles. This causes fatigue, weakness, and the feeling of drowsiness.

Cerebral Malaria

When treatment gets delayed, malaria can turn into cerebral malaria. This type affects the brain and causes it to swell. In the long run, it can cause the brain to suffer severe and permanent damage. The next stage in such complications leads to coma or seizures.

The Life-Threatening Complications of Malaria 1

Other Complications

Severe, undiagnosed or untreated malaria can cause even further life-threatening complications. The list includes:

  • Jaundice and liver failure: severe temperature, body ache, yellowing of the skin, and whitening of the eyes.
  • State of shock: a severe drop in blood pressure.
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Fluid build-up in the lungs
  • Low blood sugar level
  • Rupturing and swelling of the spleen
  • Kidney failure
  • Severe dehydration

Complications of Malaria for Pregnant Women

According to the World Health Organization, pregnant women, children, and elderly are at a greater risk of malaria. Therefore, pregnant women are highly recommended to avoid going to areas with high risk of malaria.

The risks associated with malaria for pregnant women also increase risks for the baby. This can lead to serious complications for both mother and the baby. Some common risk factors include:

  • Increased risk of premature birth
  • Restricted growth of the unborn baby
  • Low birth weight
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Death of mother

It is unfortunate how we are still unable to deal with complications related to malaria. Early diagnosis is the only way you can control the symptoms and begin effective treatment. So when in doubt, seek medical assistance right away.

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