Malaria is a serious and sometimes life-threatening disease. You can catch malaria if you are bitten by a mosquito named anopheles, carrying a parasite named Plasmodium. This parasite grows and multiplies in the liver, and causes the infection of red blood cells. You can also develop malaria if you have undergone infected blood transfusion, infected liver transplantation or by use of needles or syringes that are contaminated with infected blood or from infected mother to baby.
How Are You Diagnosed With Malaria?
Your physician will investigate your signs and symptoms, your family history, your medical history including a recent journey to malaria-affected regions and advice you some laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis of the disease.
These signs and symptoms of malaria can resemble flu, you may feel-
- Chilliness that may make you shake or shiver
- Fever of high temperature
- Pain in the head
- Pain in the whole body and muscles
- Weakness all around the body, tiredness
- Lost appetite
- Pain in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Much perspiration
These symptoms come intermittently (comes for few hours or days and goes) in stages, you may first feel chill and shiver in the first stage, then you may feel fever, headache, and body ache in the second stage followed by sweating and tiredness in the third stage.
After studying these symptoms, your physician will facilitate your physical examination. Doctor will check if you have an enlarged liver or spleen. Doctor feels the symptoms, medical history, and physical exam are pointing towards malaria, then the doctor will advice you a number of tests to confirm the diagnosis.
These tests will determine-
- Whether you are suffering from malaria
- The type of malaria you have caught by investigating the exact causative parasite
- Whether the parasite detected is resistant to certain types of drugs
- Whether the disease has caused a reduction in RBC cells than normal range indicating anemia
- Whether the disease has caused affections of other vital organs.
Blood Test- you are asked for the blood test for a specific reason. Your blood sample is taken to identify the parasite with a microscope. Your blood smear is prepared by using a slide with a specific stain. It provides the definite diagnosis of the type of malaria.
Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT)- RDT is an antigen test that provides quick diagnosis of malaria in few minutes. If the test result is positive, then a blood smear examination is preferred after RDT to confirm the result and acquire the exact proportion of red blood cells infected by the parasite. It helps to determine the exact damage caused by the parasite to RBC cells.
Polymerase Chain Reaction- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to detect nucleic acids of the parasite. This technique is preferred in acutely ill patients. It is not used for quick establishment of the diagnosis. It is mainly used to confirm the species of the parasite that has caused malaria in you. It is done after the diagnosis of malaria is established by smear microscopic test or RDT.
ELISA- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is used to inquire whether you were previously infected by the malaria parasite. It detects the antibodies formed in the body against the malaria parasite.
Drug Resistance Tests- This test is performed to detect resistance developed against any antimalarial drug. Your samples are cultured in presence of increasing concentrations of drugs and the concentration at which the parasite dies is the end result. Molecular markers are evaluated by PCR or gene sequencing to predict drug resistance.
The symptoms remain the same in every malaria patient irrespective of the causative parasite. Hence, the diagnostic testing is important for your overall management of malarial condition and reduction of the possible emergency and spread of drug resistance developed in your body.
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- What Should I Eat When I am Suffering from Malaria?
- How Malaria Can Kill You?
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