A close friend of mine had a COVID-19 scare the other day. He was experiencing fever, headaches and shivering, and instantly thought he might have contracted the virus. Upon going to the hospital and getting tested, they discovered it was just a regular bout of malaria.
Like my friend, some of us have probably fallen ill in recent times, and the minute we start showing symptoms, our mind immediately asks ‘do I have COVID?’ The important question is - how do we differentiate?
If you live in Africa, malaria is no stranger, and in truth, it shares some of the highly recognisable symptoms with COVID-19 such as fever, fatigue and headaches. On the flip side, both malaria and COVID-19 infected individuals may also be asymptomatic for a long time. Thus, it is very easy that a malaria case is misclassified as COVID-19 if symptoms alone are used as determinants. However, it’s important to recognize their distinctive symptoms to either avoid a scare or to get help as soon as possible.
Malaria symptoms would often appear within 10 to 15 days after an infective bite, and the symptoms vary depending on your age, general health, and the kind of malaria parasite you have.
However, the most common symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, body aches, sweats, fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, and just the general feeling of being sick. These symptoms may come and go in cycles. Malaria is easily treated with medications, and would typically disappear in a week or two.
Averagely, it takes 5 - 6 days from when someone is infected, to show symptoms, but it could also take up to 14 days.
Key steps in identifying COVID-19 often involve an asymptomatic patient with complaints of any of the following symptoms: dry cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, headache, loss of taste and smell. This is a respiratory virus, hence the common symptoms are those that affect the respiration and breathing. Dry cough and shortness of breath are two important differentiators, although, this could also be caused by other factors such as weather conditions, allergy, or flu. Human travel history and/or recent contact with an infected person is also a significant consideration when screening for a suspected case of COVID-19 as well as a means of curbing transmission.
In the end, nothing beats getting professional help immediately when you show symptoms of any illness. In these times, now is not the time to self-medicate. They always say ‘Prevention is better than cure’, and that phrase still rings through. Protect yourself from malaria and COVID-19 by practising the necessary preventive measures. Feel free to chat with us via our online pharmacy platform, if you need help navigating your symptoms, or getting tested.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay winning.
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