Pros and Cons of Malaria Medicine?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Pros and Cons of Malaria Medicine?

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Last Post This thread is marked as being about Malaria
1. Posted by mrb430 (Budding Member 8 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Hey all,

We will be in the San Blas Islands and Roatan, both areas where CDC recommends malaria medicine. What do you do? Are there down-sides to taking the drugs? Any advice would help.

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1286 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Yeah, if you're fortunate to be from a wealthy enough country to have the option of anti-malarials, unlike many people who live where it is endemic, you should take advantage of it and not risk getting this debilitating chronic disease.

It’s no joke.

3. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2123 posts) 5w 1 Star this if you like it!

"Are there down-sides to taking the drugs?"

Well, wouldn't a big downside be actually catching malaria??

https://www.healthline.com/health/malaria

I use antimalarial medications when In a malaria zone.

For some places I have been to in Asia I can get by with cheaper Doxycycline. (There may be some light sensitivity to this preventative.)

Ask your doctor for his views.

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Nov-2018, at 10:51 by karazyal ]

4. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 512 posts) 5w 1 Star this if you like it!

I really don't like anti-malaria medicine as it makes me a bit dopey sometimes (not always and I've no idea why that happens), so I try not to go to places where it's a big problem.
However if I was going to Roatan I would definately take anti-malarial stuff as the 'pro' of not getting malaria beats all the 'cons'...

5. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 839 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I would talk to my physician. He knows your health and all the concerns that go with it. I played in an orchestra in Haiti for years and gave up on taking the malaria preventive medicine when my Haitian doctor said all it did was suppress the symptoms and if I got malaria, they would give me the same medicine to cure it. I was fine most of the time but one year we had an epidemic and I did get malaria. It was so mild that I wouldn't have known I had it except the entire orchestra was tested and I came out positive. I had to take the medicine and did as told. Never took it again and never got it again. That was over 20 years ago and I haven't had any problems. However, I am in excellent health and in those days was young and in excellent health. There are a lot of excellent reasons to take the medication. Only your doctor knows your condition, and be completely honest with him discussing this. If you are at all nervous about it, take the medication. People die of malaria and it is not something to take lightly . . . or ask advice about online without discussing it with your personal physician. If your doctor isn't familiar with malaria and the medications available (more available now than 20 years ago), ask him to refer you to another doctor who knows the disease and medications. Your health may depend on it.

As suggested by Andrew Mack above, it makes more sense to take it than not take it. How much work can you afford to miss when you come home? The only down side I had was an upset stomach when I took my weekly pill and it didn't last that long and was once a week. They have several different medicines now so ask for one that isn't likely to have any unpleasant side effects. Also, for some you have to start before you leave home, so get it sorted now; don't wait until the last minute.

6. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 512 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

all it did was suppress the symptoms and if I got malaria, they would give me the same medicine to cure it.

I was under he impression that it wasn't a curable virus, and that all the treatment does is supress it.
Then at a later date/dates (possibly years later) when you body has certain issues/circumstances (including it being the most inconvenient timing possible) it can reactivate.
Possibly low level but possibly at a far stronger level.

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Nov-2018, at 16:00 by Andrew Mack ]

7. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 839 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

From www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/faqs.html
"If the right drugs are used, people who have malaria can be cured and all the malaria parasites can be cleared from their body. However, the disease can continue if it is not treated or if it is treated with the wrong drug. Some drugs are not effective because the parasite is resistant to them."

It's a parasite, not a virus. If I were the poster, I'd probably take the prophylactic.

8. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 512 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

It's a parasite, not a virus. If I were the poster

Sorry, yes it's a parasite.
Typing fingers and brain weren't connected when I typed virus...

But I was under the impression that a cure is extremely rare and it usually just goes dormant and then awakens in the right circumstances.
I guess the treatment must have improved...

9. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1131 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

The members replying are experienced travellers and are no doubt well-educated on these matters but the only person the OPer should be taking advice from is their GP, who I'm sure will say that prevention is better than cure.

There are several anti-malarials available so you ought to find one that you're comfortable with (but that my be a case of try it and see). I always use doxycycline which is one tablet per day for up to a month after leaving the infected area; they are quite cheap though and I personally suffer no side-effects. Also ensure you cover up at dusk until dawn and always use a good insect-repellent (we get Bushman's 80% deet but that's banned for sale in Europe).

Enjoy your travels! :):)

10. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 839 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

I think that is pretty much what we're all saying. Talk to your own doctor . . . and prevention is better than a cure. I hope the poster is reading all this. Many people don't want to spend the money but when you add up all the missed work, doctor visits and medication if you get sick, you are probably saving money by taking the preventative.