Giardia infection also called as giardiasis is an infection that develops on the small intestine. It is caused by parasite that dwells on poor sanitary areas and unclean water. People who are affected with this infection may develop bloating or fullness of stomach with abdominal cramps. They would visit the toilet number of times for passing watery stool. People who are using water of municipality and public swimming pools and wells are prone to get giardiasis.
The parasite gains entry into the body through water and contaminated food particles and even by skin contact of infected person. Giardiasis can be managed by appropriate drugs that destroy parasites. The parasite can easily get into the body when they eat food containing the cysts of Giardia organism. Giardiasis is one of the most common parasitic infection in many countries including the America.
Giardiasis Symptoms :
Giardiasis may not cause any signs on some people except silently remaining on their body for long. They act as carriers of parasite by spreading the infection to others when their stool is touched accidentally by others. Some people may become sick when infected with giardiasis and may develop symptoms like abdominal cramps, bloating, flatulence and watery stool. They may pass foul smelling greasy stool and become tired easily. The above symptoms may last for few weeks and will continue to decline once the parasite emerges out of the body.
Mode of Transmission :
The cyst of Giardia parasite can be transmitted to humans and animals in various methods. People who eat contaminated food particles that contain the cysts of Giardia and those who drink contaminated water obtained from dirty filters and water bodies of lakes and rivers are prone to develop this infection. Travelers and hikers are at increased risk of developing this infection by eating and drinking contaminated water available.
In rare cases, the infection can be passed from one person to the other who gets in touch with the stools or fluids of infected one. Daycare workers and assistants working in nursing homes are at risk of getting giardiasis when they accidentally touch their nose or eyes without washing their hands properly. Having oral sex or anal sex with an infected person can transfer the parasite directly to the other.
Causes Of Giardiasis :
The cyst of Giardia parasites is the main cause of spreading the infection. The cysts of parasite can survive for many months since they are safe within the hard outer protective covering called shell. After they get into the body of humans, the cysts would dissolve to release the parasites. Drinking contaminated water and food that contains the cysts of Giardia is the root cause of developing this infection. Animal feces and wastewater discharge and diapers of children with diarrhea can contain these cysts in large numbers.
In rare cases giardiasis can cause complications like dehydration due to severe diarrhea. This can lead to malnutrition causing imbalance in nutrients in children.
Giardiasis Tests :
Easy way to diagnose giardiasis is by testing the stool of infected person. Cysts can be detected when the stool is examined under a microscope. String test is used for some people in whom the person who is suspected of giardia infection will be asked to swallow a string that contains gelatin capsule. After some hours the string will be pulled out and tested for the presence of parasitic organisms. Endoscopic testing can be done by sending small thin tube into the stomach via mouth to collect some tissue sample. It is then tested in the lab for detecting parasite.
Flagyl is the first line drug for treating giardiasis infection. The pill should be taken thrice daily for specific period as per the recommendation of your doctor. This drug can cause some unwanted effects like headache, vomiting and dryness in mouth. For some people, quinacrine is given for 5 days to treat giardiasis.
Giardiasis Home Remedies :
The patient should be kept well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids like fruit juices and sports drinks. Children can be given Pedialyte on such occasions. In case of severe vomiting and diarrhea the person can keep ice cubes inside the mouth to maintain water balance. Once the health is stabilized, he/she can take regular bland foods. Avoid drinking milk for few days.
Giardiasis Prevention :
- No vaccination is available for preventing giardiasis infection.
- The only way to prevent giardiasis is to educate the people to use safe water and clean food.
- Washing the hands properly before taking food and after using toilet should be practiced by all.
- Drink only boiled water or water that is processed by reverse osmosis method.
- Travelers and hikers can carry bottled water with them and avoid using pond water.