Malaria can be a severe, potentially fatal disease and treatment should be initiated as soon as possible. Malaria is treated with antimalarial drugs and measures to control symptoms, including medications to control fever, antiseizure medications when needed, fluids and electrolytes.
The types of drugs and the length of treatment will vary, depending on:
- Which type of malaria parasite you have
- The severity of your symptoms
- Your age
- Whether you’re pregnant
The type of medications that are used to treat malaria depends on the severity of the disease and the likelihood of chloroquine resistance.
The drugs available to treat malaria include:
- Dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine
- Artemether and lumefantrine
- Mefloquine (Lariam)
- Artesunate and mefloquine
- Atovaquone & Proguanil
- Doxycycline (Vibramycin)
- Chloroquine – This drug has been largely lost due to drug resistance.
The history of antimalarial medicine has been marked by a constant struggle between evolving drug-resistant parasites and the search for new drug formulations. Chloroquine is ineffective in nearly all locations. In Cambodia and Southern Vietnam, within a year, all of the drugs on the list could be ineffective.
People with falciparum malaria have the most severe symptoms. People with falciparum malaria may need to be monitored in the intensive care unit of a hospital during the first days of treatment because the disease can cause breathing failure, coma and kidney failure.
For pregnant women, quinine and clindamycin typically are used for pregnant people with malaria.