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How Will Doxycycline Protect Me From Malaria?

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If you are wondering how Doxycycline will protect you from malaria, you’ve come to the right place. Malaria is a serious and potentially fatal illness caused by parasites carried by infected mosquitoes. This disease infects your red blood cells, causing them to burst. If untreated, Malaria can cause anaemia and yellowing of the skin (jaundice) which could lead to seizures, kidney failure, coma, mental confusion, and death.

A common cause of malaria is P.Falciparum. This parasite has led to the most malaria-related deaths around the globe. P.Falciparum causes your blood vessels to clog. It also spreads rapidly in your bloodstream causing various complications like kidney and liver failure.

Everything you need to know about Doxycycline

Fortunately, Malaria is a preventable disease. Doxycycline is one of the most common and affordable malaria treatments available. Although this drug is primarily used as an antibiotic to treat infections (e.g., skin infections, sexually transmitted diseases, chest infections, etc.), you can also take Doxycycline to prevent malaria if you are travelling abroad.

How does Doxycycline work?

Doxycycline is a drug that belongs to a family of medicines called tetracycline antibiotics. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria and parasites that cause malaria by inhibiting their ability to produce the proteins they need to stay alive.

Who can take Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a prescription-only drug given to adults and children over 12 years old. However, those who have:

  • Problems in the kidney and liver
  • Inflamed food pipe
  • Allergic reaction to Doxycycline in the past
  • Lupus

are not recommended to take Doxycycline. Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding are also cautioned against taking the drug.

How should I take Doxycycline?

You should take 1 dose of Doxycycline 2 days before you travel to a malaria high-risk country or area. While there, take one dose daily. After you leave, continue taking one dose of Doxycycline every day for 28 consecutive days.

The daily dose for Doxycycline in adults is 100mg.

For children, the daily dose is calculated based on their weight and should not exceed 100mg per day.

Always take Doxycycline 100mg with a full stomach to avoid any irritations. Also, take it with a full glass of water. Avoid the following for a couple of hours after taking this drug:

  • Milk
  • Dairy products like cheese and yoghurt
  • Lying down

There are no limits as to how long you can take Doxycycline. Several people are taking this medicine to prevent acne. So far, there is no evidence showing the detrimental effects of Doxycycline when taken for extended periods.

What are the side effects of Doxycycline?

Despite not having long term detrimental effects, Doxycycline still has some side effects that you need to be aware of. The most common side effect of this drug is increased sun sensitivity. If you are prone to sunburn, we strongly encourage wearing high SPF sunblock or avoiding the midday sun when going outside.

Other side effects of Doxycycline include:

  • Nausea and stomach pain (can be lessened by taking the medicine with food)
  • Vaginal yeast infection (women who suffer from this side effect can take over the counter or prescription medications to get rid of the symptoms)
  • Occasional vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Headaches (make sure you are getting enough rest. Drink plenty of liquids. You can also take regular painkillers)

Most of these side effects are mild and does not merit stopping your antimalarial medication. Contact your doctor if you are having a hard time coping up.

Remember that there are no vaccines available for malaria. The best way to prevent malaria is by following the ABCD approach:

A – awareness of the risk of malaria

B – bite prevention

C – chemoprophylaxis (taking antimalarial drugs exactly as prescribed)

D – diagnosis and treatment of any malaria symptoms