To diagnose malaria, your doctor will likely review your medical history, conduct a physical exam and order blood tests. Blood tests are the only way to confirm a malaria diagnosis. Certain blood tests can help your doctor by showing:
Other blood tests help determine whether the disease is causing any serious complications.
Some blood tests can take several days to complete, while others can produce results in less than 15 minutes.
Malaria is treated with prescription drugs to kill the parasite. The types of drugs and the length of treatment will vary, depending on:
The most common antimalarial drugs include:
Other common antimalarial drugs include:
New antimalarial drugs are being researched and developed. Malaria treatment is marked by a constant struggle between evolving drug-resistant parasites and the search for new drug formulations. For example, one variety of the malaria parasite has demonstrated resistance to nearly all of the available antimalarial drugs.
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. If you have severe symptoms — especially during or after travel in an area where malaria is common — seek emergency medical attention.
Before your appointment, you might want to write a list that answers the following questions:
During the physical exam, your doctor may review your medical history, listen to your breathing, check your spleen and neurological functions, and look for other causes of a fever.