Once bitten, it stings...

As the World Malaria Day approaches, Satkam Divya brings the focus back on the deadly mosquito bite

Health

Malaria is a common disease in our country and is quite prevalent in certain pockets where environmental factors aid in the breeding of the parasite plasmodium. There are four types of usual suspects of plasmodium — Ovale, Falciparum, Malariae and Vivax. Vivax is the commonest variety, and fortunately, is not as dangerous as Falciparum, which can wreak havoc on the body’s system. There are, however, ways to protect ourselves from its onslaught.

Deadly bite

Mosquitoes have become a source of deadly diseases like dengue, malaria and chikungunya. Malaria is a disease that can badly affect all organs of the body, and cause multi-organ failure, often leading to death in severe cases. It differs from dengue as it is a parasitic disease, and not of the viral kind like dengue, so the chief complaints are different from joint pain and the tendency to bleed. 

Prevention is the best cure

The best way to get rid of malaria is never to have it. Yes, that is an oxymoron! Prevention of this ugly disease is totally possible and is very easy. All that one needs to do is take some preventive measures:

♦ Use repellent creams on the exposed areas to keep mosquitoes away.

♦ Use a proper mosquito net to avoid nocturnal bites.

When things get serious

When we know that a person is suffering from malaria, we should know that the fever can have some really nasty spikes. It is possible to have a person moving about deliriously with fever. Thus, bringing down the fever to ensure that it does not affect the other organs of the body is extremely vital. This can be done by administering an antipyretic (a drug that brings down fever) and cold sponging. The term cold sponging is, however, a misnomer as you never use cold water to sponge a patient, you need to use water that is at normal room temperature.

Also, be on the lookout for the following symptoms, since these can be pointers to any severe complications developing or the exacerbation of the condition of a patient:

♦ If the patient behaves abnormally, or you seem to notice some neurological abnormality, like delirium or gibberish talk, it is a sign that his/her brain may have got affected. In such cases, the patient should immediately be rushed to the nearest medical emergency. Patients can display abnormal eye movements, convulsions or even worse, a generalised increase in the tone of the entire body. All these signs are to be constantly looked for and are essential to monitor. If not treated on time, some permanent neurological deficit can remain.

♦ Hands may become clammy and the patient may feel very weak and lose consciousness. These situations too are an absolute emergency and must be dealt with immediately.

♦ If the patient complains of decrease in urination and less amount of urine passed, the attendants must become alert. Also, if the patient complains of black colour urine, one must rush to the hospital, as the patient must be suffering from Blackwater fever, which is a severe complication of malaria leading to a case of acute kidney injury.

A working knowledge about how to avoid the spread of malaria is important as it requires only a few general measures to keep life-threatening complications at bay. The complications are to be looked for actively so that the patient can be spared from morbidity.

(The author is CEO, KlinicApp)

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