I am someone who has traveled to malaria-infected areas in the past and will do so again in the future. I also happen to have a form of musculr dystrophy (myotonic dystrophy type II) that, among other things, causes me to experience frequent episodes of muscular pain. Thus, the mere presence of muscle pain, in my particular case, can tell little about whether I might have malaria.
Though I do understand there are several other symptoms to look for, I also would still like to have a better understanding of what malarial muscle aches tend to feel like in the hope that this information could perhaps help me distinguish this particular form of muscle pain from the other muscle pains I already experience. For example, I have also occasionally experienced pulled muscles, or muscles that simply were overused during a recent, too prolonged session of resistance training. Thus I am familiar with how these feel and how they differ from the more usual pains caused by my muscular dystrophy. This helps me recognize what is likely causing a particular muscle pain on a particular occasion.
Can you describe malarial “muscle aches” in more detail? For example, which muscles are affected? (The muscular dystrophy tends to cause pain more often in certain muscles while others are more rarely, or not at all, affected … so this information alone could be helpful). Does the ache tend to stay in one set of muscles, or does it move around, hurting one set of muscles on Monday morning and another on Monday night, etc.? Is it a persistent, steady pain (hurting as much on Wednesday as it did on Tuesday) or does it fluctuate? Is it a sharp pain? Dull? Throbbing? What? Does moving or using the aching muscle make it hurt more? Does it come with joint pain, or not? What?
I do, of course, intend to educate myself further about malaria and am already aware of other symptoms that are more helpful for me to be aware of. (Headaches is NOT among these since I have so many of those also, but some of the other symptoms I’ve read are far more unusual for me and thus more helpful in signaling to me the possibility that I’m actually sick and not just having a “bad pain day”) But knowing more about typical malarial muscle pain would help give me an additional data point to consider.
Your assistance will be much appreciated.
I have checked in with one of our medical advisors here at MALARIA.com and this is what he has replied:
Unfortunately, there is no useful characterization of muscle aches associated with malaria. Malaria is not a subtle disease that needs to be detected by characterizing the location or quality of muscle pains. The main symptoms of malaria are high fever and shivering/shaking chills. The presence of these symptoms should prompt an evaluation for malaria. That being said, it should not be an issue if the person takes malaria chemoprophylaxis and uses appropriate mosquito avoidance measures.
Hope that helps!