Hi i just came back from the Dominican Republic. I started to have a mild fever, chills, muscle pains, a headache, and a cough. Today the fever and chills are gone but my cough and headache have gotten worse. It hurts my head a lot when I cough, I feel a lot of pressure in my head. Can you please tell me why my head hurts so much. Is this a symptom of malaria? hope to hear from you guys soon thanks!
Headaches can be caused by many things – they are usually classified as primary (tension headaches, migraines or cluster headaches), secondary (as a side effect to some other illness or syndrome, which can very commonly be an infection or response to an allergen) and neuralgia and “other” headaches (neuralgia is inflamed nerves). Malaria, as a serious infection, can cause secondary headaches, while other symptoms include fever (usually in cycles of 2 or 3 days), chills, nausea and aches. However, these symptoms are also consistent with a wide range of other illnesses, including influenza and other common diseases. Malaria symptoms will only appear at least one week after being bitten – if you have started feeling symptoms sooner than this, then you probably don’t have malaria.
Malaria is present in the Dominican Republic, with highest transmission risk in the western part of the country, near the Haitian border. The cities of Santiago and Santo Domingo are considered very low risk for malaria. It is actually recommended that all travellers to the DR take anti-malarial medication (called prophylaxis), to protect against malaria infection. If you were taking prophylaxis, then the risk of getting malaria is very low. However, if you were visiting areas outside of these cities, were not taking anti-malaria medication and it has been at least a week since you were bitten by mosquitoes while there, it may be worth going to your doctor or a hospital to have a malaria test. If you are diagnosed with the disease, then your doctor can quickly prescribe you effective treatment, which should clear up the infection in a matter of days. The type of malaria in the Dominican Republic (Plasmodium falciparum) can be dangerous if left untreated, though in this area, it responds readily to several different drugs, including chloroquine, so treatment will be uncomplicated.
If you have taken medications for malaria, please help Malaria.com by taking our Malaria Medication Side-effects Survey: Treatment and Prophylaxis. Thank you!