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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

What Is Cerebral Malaria

Malaria is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite that is transmitted to humans through cerebral malaria treatment the bite of a mosquito that has been infected with it.

Usually, people suffering from malaria fall very sick, having fever and chills as a result of the parasite entering the body.

However, it can get even more complicated and far worse. We know that there is blood flowing in our body, even in our brain and we also know that when the parasite enters the body, it hides, lives and multiples in blood cells.

If by chance, such blood cells block the small vessels in your brain, the normal blood flow will get obstructed. As a result, your brain will severely start to swell and the brain cells start to get damaged.

This condition is known as cerebral malaria treatment. It is one of the most fatal complications of severe malaria and may cause multiple neurological complications.

Cerebral malaria is the most common complications and a cause of death in severe P. falciparum infection. About 10% of malaria patients observe cerebral complications, out of which 80% result in death.


Neurological complications, Credit: Pikist

Symptoms: Types of Complications

They of neurological problems caused by cerebral malaria include:

  1. Seizure

  2. Coma

  3. Impaired consciousness

  4. Delirium

  5. Focal convulsions

  6. Any other abnormal neurological sign

Other signs include:

  1. Neck stiffness

  2. Retinal hemorrhage

  3. Fixed jaw

  4. Intense tooth grinding

  5. Jaundice (rare)

  6. Jerking reflex

  7. Pouting reflex


Malarial-induced coma, Credit: Needpix

Why Does This Happen?

Standard malaria can progress into cerebral malaria due to the following reasons:

1)   High-grade fever

It can cause impairment of consciousness, convulsions in children, and psychosis. In addition to that, the body temperature significantly decreases. In such cases,  patients with consciousness with starting symptoms tend to have seizures.

2)   Antimalarial drugs

They include:

  1. Chloroquine

  2. Quinine

  3. Mefloquine

  4. Halofantrine

These drugs can create problems in the nervous system by causing convulsions, hallucinations, and altered behavior.

3)   Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can either be caused due to the severity of the malarial parasite or as a body’s negative reaction to the drug quinine.

Low blood sugar leads to fuel deprivation for the brain which results in functional brain failure and may even cause brain death.

4)   Severe Anaemia

Malaria patients who suffer from severe anemia will observe cerebral dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, impaired cerebral vascular regulation, neurological injury, and any other anemia-induced brain injury.

These are the most common cause of cerebral malaria but may not be the only causes. Other complications can also occur and act as a trigger. They include:

  1. Other neurological infections

  2. Vascular diseases


After infection into the human body, the parasite starts to interfere with the immune cells like CD8+ and T cells.

After this, they attach themselves to the blood vessels of the brain but are not capable of doing so to the blood vessels of the body. Due to this, the infected blood cells get accumulated in the blood vessels of the brain. They eventually cause the vessel to break apart and leak into the brain.

This leakage is so severe that it can directly interfere with the vital function of the body as it damages the brain stem cells.

This eventually causes the brain to swell and thus leads to various neurological complications listed above.


Antimalarial drugs: parenteral treatment, Credit: Pixnio

Treatment of Cerebral Malaria

For any form of severe complicated malaria, treatment with antimalarial drugs is highly necessary.

Some of these drugs are:

  1. Quinine dihydrochloride

  2. Quinidine gluconate

  3. Artemisinin and its derivatives

Most of these drugs require gastrointestinal absorption and therefore commonly induces vomiting after consumption. Although there has been no evidence with significant backing, most patients are treated parenterally.

In this specific case of cerebral malaria treatment, the use of mannitol has also been promising.

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