Tips for Health

Learning About Giardiasis

By on July 18, 2012 in Diseases, Health, Prevention with 0 Comments

What is giardiasis?

Giardia is a microscopic parasite that can live in the intestines of humans. The disease caused by this parasite is called giardiasis. Some symptoms of giardiasis are diarrhea, belching, gas and cramping. Although these problems are very unpleasant, the disease is not usually dangerous.

How does a person get this disease?

Giardiasis is easy to get if you drink untreated water. Many animals have Giardia in the feces and may introduce this parasite into rivers, streams and springs in rural areas. Infected stream water looks clean and safe, when really, it is not. The city water can also be infected if sewer pipes are flooded or lost. If traveling abroad, you may have giardiasis by drinking water (even tap water) that has not been boiled or treated.

Some people with giardiasis do not become ill, but the parasite may infect others. Giardiasis can be spread in day care centers if workers are not careful about washing their hands each time after changing diapers.

How does my doctor know if I have this disease?

Usually, your doctor can diagnose giardiasis observing stool samples under a microscope, although they may be examined several samples before diagnosis. Sometimes, other tests are needed.

How is this disease treated?

Generally, giardiasis is treated with a medicine called metronidazole. It is usually administered 3 times daily, for 5 to 10 days. Side effects may include a metallic taste in the mouth or nausea. If you are taking metronidazole, you should not drink alcohol. This medication should not be consumed in the early stages of pregnancy.

Children under 5 can be treated with furazolidone. This medicine has fewer side effects and comes as a liquid, but not given to infants under 1 month of age.

Usually, it would be better if the whole family is treated at the same time, because giardiasis spreads very easily. In most cases, your doctor will want to examine a stool sample after treatment, to ensure that the medicine has worked. Sometimes, you may need to take medication for a long time, or your doctor may advise you to take another medication to achieve complete cure.

How can I prevent giardiasis?

If you are traveling or camping, be very careful with the water you drink. If someone in your family has giardiasis, it is likely that this problem will spread to everyone in your home, especially children.

When camping, drink bottled water or boil water before drinking. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water several times a day. When traveling, do not brush your teeth or wash dishes with water that has been boiled. Peel fruits and vegetables before eating. Also, do not eat undercooked food.




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