Malaria Home > Malaria Symptoms

In people with malaria, symptoms typically begin to develop 10 to 30 days after infection. They can range from mild symptoms to severe disease, and even death. Examples of early or uncomplicated symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, nausea, and diarrhea. Infection with one type of parasite may cause severe symptoms if left untreated, such as kidney failure, seizures, coma, and fluid in the lungs.

An Overview of Malaria Symptoms

When a person becomes infected with Plasmodium (the parasite that causes malaria), it begins to multiply within the body. Typically, after 10 to 30 days, malaria symptoms can begin. The period between infection and the start of symptoms is called the malaria incubation period. This period can be as short as seven days or as long as several years.
Infection with malaria parasites may result in a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from very mild symptoms to severe disease, and even death. Malaria can be categorized as uncomplicated or severe (complicated). In general, this is a curable disease if diagnosed and treated promptly and correctly.

Early or Uncomplicated Symptoms of Malaria

In the first stages of the disease, most people have early malaria symptoms that can include:
  • Fever
  • Sweats
  • Shaking chills
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Muscles aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea.
In countries where malaria occurs infrequently, these symptoms may be attributed to the flu (influenza), the common cold, or other common infections.
Although it doesn't occur often, symptoms of malaria may follow a cyclical pattern. In these cases, symptoms last for six to ten hours, then get better. Every two to three days, depending on the type of malaria parasite, the symptoms return.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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