Everything you need to know about antimalarial tablets

Written by: Editors

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Malaria is a parasitic disease which occurs mostly in poor tropical and subtropical areas of the world. It is spread by mosquitoes infected with a malaria parasite. Malaria can make you very ill. It can even be fatal when not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. One of the ways to prevent malaria infection is to take antimalarial tablets. There is no malaria vaccine that provides complete protection.

Why take antimalarial tablets?

There is a reason why malaria is also referred to as traveller’s malaria. Every year many international travellers fall ill with malaria when visiting countries where malaria is present because they haven’t taken the necessary precautions. As mentioned earlier, taking antimalarial tablets is the most important thing you can do to avoid malaria. Although no antimalarial tablets are 100% effective, taking them according to instructions significantly reduces your chance of catching the disease. Also, it will take much longer for potentially serious complications to develop. This buys doctors more time to treat the infection.

Different types of antimalarial tablets

If you are travelling to a malaria risk area, you will be advised to take precautions to prevent contracting the disease. There are different kinds of antimalarial tablets. What tablets you will be prescribed depends on a number of factors:

  • The country or region you are travelling to
  • The length of your stay
  • The nature of your trip and associated risks
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Use of other medicines

Antimalaria tablets differ in terms of:

  • Frequency and duration of use: daily/weekly, up to a week/month after leaving the malaria area
  • Individual sensitivity to side effects
  • Price

Side effects

Antimalarial tablets may cause side effects. Depending on the type of antimalarial, you may experience the following side effects:

  • Headache, abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and coughing.
  • Sores inside the mouth (uncommon).
  • Sleep problems, psychological problems.
  • Allergic reactions. This can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.
  • Increased susceptibility to vaginal thrush.
  • Stomach problems.

If the side effects are severe, you may want or need to stop taking the tablets. Always ask your doctor for advice before you stop taking them.

What to do if you're sick or think you may be infected

As mentioned before, malaria infection can still develop even if you have taken antimalarial tablets. Malaria can have very serious consequences. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms. If in doubt, seek medical advice and seek it quickly.

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