Long and Short Term Effects of Malaria

QUESTION

What are the long term and short term effects of malaria in brief please?

ANSWER

The symptoms of malaria as an acute infection vary somewhat depending on the type of malaria, but usual signs include high fever (often in a cyclical pattern, with fever one day, then no fever for one or two days, then a recurrence of fever), chills, body aches and nausea.

For Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly form of malaria, the infection can progress rapidly if left untreated, with organ failure, impaired consciousness, coma and even death occurring as quickly as a few days after the onset of symptoms.

If the patient is able to survive the infection, or gets treatment in time, there are usually no long term affects of malaria infection. Some people who have suffered severe cerebral malaria (from P. falciparum) may experience some longer term neurological effects. Other types of malaria, such as P. ovale and P. vivax, can form dormant life stages which hide in the liver for weeks, months or even years, leading to relapse at a later date. However, apart from these recurrences, there are also no long term effects of infection with these types of malaria.

Comments

  1. B Thompson says

    I had malaria from 1979 – 1981 while living in Africa. Though I have not had the usual episodes since that time and am post menopausal, I have increasingly severe bouts of night sweats. We keep our home air conditioned down to 62 degrees at night, yet I awake regularly sweating, even though I cover with only a cotton sheet.

    I am wondering if the severe malaria I had 30+ years ago somehow affected my body’s ability to regulate temperature.

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    • Claire Standley, Editor says

      I don’t think it is likely that malaria would have an effect on your ability to regulate your temperature, especially after so many years. Many women continue to experience night sweats for many years after they have gone through menopause. Here is a link to an article from the UK which reports on some recent research by scientists at Kings College London on these findings: .

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  2. Willie Looney says

    I contracted malaria while in Vietnam was hospitalized and suffered high fevers for 3 months. I was treated with high doses of quinine. I have had severe hearing loss since. Would the malaria, fever or quinine contribute to the hearing loss?

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    • Claire Standley, Editor says

      There have been associations between quinine use and hearing loss, especially in the upper frequencies, so this is probably what has caused your condition.

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