Blood tests can show the presence of the parasite and help tailor treatment by determining:
- Whether you have malaria
- Which type of malaria parasite is causing your symptoms
- If your infection is caused by a parasite resistant to certain drugs
- Whether the disease is affecting any of your vital organs
Some blood tests can take several days to complete, while others can produce results in less than 15 minutes.
The types of drugs and the length of treatment will vary, depending on:
- Which type of malaria parasite you have
- The severity of your symptoms
- Your age
- Whether you're pregnant
The most common antimalarial drugs include:
- Chloroquine (Aralen)
- Quinine sulfate (Qualaquin)
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
- Combination of atovaquone and proguanil (Malarone)
The history of antimalarial medicine has been marked by a constant struggle between evolving drug-resistant parasites and the search for new drug formulations. In many parts of the world, for instance, resistance to chloroquine has rendered the drug ineffective.
Preparing for your appointment
If you suspect you have malaria or that you've been exposed, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to an infectious disease specialist.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you might want to write a list that answers the following questions:
- What are your symptoms, and when did they start?
- Have you recently traveled to or moved from a region in which malaria is common?
- Have you ever had malaria before?
- What types of medications and supplements do you take?
What to expect from your doctor
During the physical exam, your doctor may check your spleen and neurological functions, as well as look for other causes of fever.