Giardiasis, often known as a giardia infection, is a common enteric parasitic infection that causes diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and bloating. The infection is caused by a small parasite called Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia duodenalis). This insect may be found where there is a lack of clean drinking water.
Giardia infections often resolve within a few weeks; however, patients may experience digestive issues even after eliminating the parasite. Several treatments are typically successful against giardia parasites. Prevention can aid in keeping away Giardiasis disease.
Symptoms of Giardiasis
Not everyone with giardiasis shows symptoms. Those who do, begin to feel ill between one and two weeks after the infection. The most common symptom of giardiasis is diarrhea. Other symptoms of Giardia infection include:
- Foul-smelling gas and bloating
- Watery or greasy stools
- Low-grade fever
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Abdominal cramps
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
These symptoms usually persist between one and three weeks. In situations of recurrent Giardia infection, symptoms may stay even after the parasite has been eliminated. Following giardiasis, some patients acquire lactose intolerance, which can be transient or permanent.
When to see a doctor?
If you have loose stools, stomach cramps and bloating, nausea that lasts more than a week, or if you get dehydrated, talk to your doctor. If you have a kid in child care, have recently gone to a location where the virus is common, or have drunk water from a lake or stream, inform your gastroenterologist or general physician.
Giardia parasites stay in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. Before the tiny parasites are excreted in the feces, they become covered with hard shells called cysts, which allow them to persist outside the intestines for many days. Once they enter a host, the cysts are dissolved, releasing the parasites. When a person accidentally swallows the parasite cysts, it leads to infection.
People with Giardia parasites in their feces might infect others if they do not properly wash their hands after using the restroom. Hands can become contaminated when changing an infected infant's diaper or touching sick animals.
Giardia germs can be transmitted by drinking polluted water or eating raw or undercooked food that contains the parasite.
It can also spread by fecal contamination of water sources or swimming areas like pools and spas. People with giardiasis should avoid swimming pools for at least one week after their symptoms have subsided, but they can swim again if they shower well beforehand.
Risk factors -
The following are the most prevalent risk factors for getting this disease:
- Drinking polluted water.
- Swallowing water while swimming.
- Consuming food that has been exposed to manure or washed with unclean water.
- People who handles diapers and feces
- Living in unsanitary and cramped surroundings.
- Oral or anal intercourse without protection.
- Giardiasis disease can produce complications even after the infection has subsided or ended. These are particularly dangerous in newborns and toddlers.
- Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water to function correctly. It is frequently the outcome of severe diarrhea.
- Long-term diarrhea can affect a child's mental and physical development. It can lead to weakness and severe consequences if left untreated.
- Lactose intolerance is commonly seen in patients with Giardia infection. This can make consuming milk, cheese, and other dairy products difficult.
No medicine or vaccination can prevent Giardia infection. However, preventive measures can go a long way toward lowering your risks of being sick or spreading the virus to others.
- After using the restroom or changing diapers, and before preparing food or eating, always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not accessible, use alcohol-based sanitizers.
- Don't drink unsafe water from wells, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, and streams until it has been filtered or boiled for at least 10 minutes at 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 C).
- Wash raw fruits and vegetables in clean, safe water. Peel the fruit before eating it. When traveling to places where there is a possibility of raw fruits and vegetables getting in contact with contaminated water, avoid eating them.
- When visiting places where the water supply is likely unsafe, drink and brush your teeth using bottled water that you have opened yourself. Also, avoid using ice.
- Don't indulge in unprotected sex, especially anal intercourse; always wear a condom.
To diagnose the Giardiasis parasitic disease the healthcare provider will test a sample of your stool. For an accurate diagnosis, several stool samples may have to be submitted over a period of days. Stool tests are also done to monitor the treatment.
Microscopy with direct fluorescent antibody testing (DFA) is the preferred test to diagnose giardiasis since it provides increased sensitivity over non-fluorescent microscopy techniques.
Other possible methods to detect Giardiasis infection include:
- Microscopy with trichrome staining
- Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) kits
- Molecular assays
- Rapid immunochromatographic cartridge assays
Giardiasis usually goes away on its own. If the infection is severe or prolonged, the doctor may prescribe antiparasitic drugs, antibiotics and advise to be hydrated. Most doctors advise treating it with antiparasitic medications rather than letting it go away on its own. Giardiasis treatment includes:
- Metronidazole is an antibiotic that should be taken for five to seven days. This may leave people with a metallic taste in the mouth.
- Tinidazole is equally effective as metronidazole and is frequently used to treat giardiasis with a single dosage.
- Nitazoxanide is a good choice for children because it is available in liquid form and only requires three days of dosage.
- Unlike other antibiotics, paromomycin has a less likelihood of causing congenital abnormalities. This drug is administered in three doses over five to ten days.
Dos and Don’ts
Giardia germs are easily transmitted from person to person; even a small number of Giardiasis germs can cause disease. As the Giardia parasites are present in the stool (poop), everything contaminated by excrement can potentially spread the germs. Understanding how to avoid the spread of the disease will help you and your loved ones stay healthy. These dos and don'ts can aid in the management of the condition.
|Drink clean water||Swallow water if you go swimming|
|Practice protected sex, use a condom||Eat improperly cooked or raw foods|
|Eat fruits and vegetables only after washing them in clean water||Avoid taking medicines prescribed by the doctor|
|After using the restroom, wash your hands with soap.||Drink unpasteurized milk.|
|Keep yourself hydrated.||Ignore proper sanitation and cleanliness.|
As Giardiasis, which is a major diarrheal disease, goes away on its own, it is highly recommended to follow the precautionary measures to stay healthy.
Giardiasis Care at Medicover Hospitals
At Medicover hospitals, we have the most trusted group of gastroenterologist and general physicians who are competent in offering the finest medical treatment to our patients with compassion and care. To treat Giardiasis, we take a holistic approach that includes the active participation of healthcare professionals from several departments to treat the disease for quick recovery. Our trusted doctors diagnose and systematically treat the illness leading to successful treatment outcomes.