Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tanzania: Starting my malaria meds today

I start my malaria meds tonight - two weeks prior to the day I arrive in a malaria zone. I was offered 3 choices: one that I need to take starting two days prior to my trip, each day for the duration and 28 days after. I chose  mefloquine which is taken once a week starting two weeks prior to my trip, once a week for the duration of my trip and once a week for 4 weeks after my arrival home. So that's 9 pills starting tonight versus 48 pills for the other med. The reason for this is that I did not want to still be taking these meds while I am in China - which will be 3 weeks after the completion of this trip.
I have to say that after I had to prescription filled and read the side effects, I wondered if I should not have risked the malaria because taking the meds doesn't mean that I will not get malaria. This is a precaution but I am also going to be careful to cover up from dusk to dawn in the malaria zone of Zanzibar. I won't have to worry too much on the Kili climb portion.
Some of the side effects of +mefloquine are:
  • stomach upset, stomach pain, nausea and/or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever, hair loss, ringing in the ear (which could be permanent)
  • dizziness, drowsiness, loss of balance or coordination, headache, insomnia, strange dreams, light-headness (which could also all be symptoms of moderate or advanced Acute Mountain Sickness)
  • feeling like you are spinning  and/or loss of balance
Fortunately if I start it today and find that the symptoms persist for a few days, I can stop taking it and get a different prescription. I can't be 100% certain but it seems to me that this was the same one I took when I went to Botswana a few years ago with no issues.
I'll have to report on how I do tonight with the first dose. Wish me luck.

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