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Black and white photograph of the microscopic parasite that causes Giardia, the diarrheal illness known as giardiasis (Giardia intestinalis, Giardia lamblia, or Giardia duodenalis) image courtesy CDC/Dr Dennis Feely, Dr Stan Erlandsen, 1980. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Giardiasis. What to do if you have it?

Giardiasis is an infection of the intestines due to a parasite – Giardia. It is a common cause of diarrhoea. It is usually a mild infection; however, if not promptly treated may lead to dehydration, loss of weight, and malabsorption.

Giardia duodenalis (G. lamblia or G. intestinalis) causes giardiasis.

Giardia lamblia (Giardia intestinalis) parasite, computer illustration. Giardia lamblia is a flagellated protozoan parasite. It colonizes and reproduces in the small intestine and causes giardiasis.
Giardia lamblia (Giardia intestinalis) parasite, computer illustration. Giardia lamblia is a flagellated protozoan parasite. It colonizes and reproduces in the small intestine and causes giardiasis. Getty images.

When you drink water or eat food contaminated with Giardia, you may get the disease. Spreading also occurs when you live in crowded or unclean places or areas with poor water supply. The infection is common among children; however, it can also attack adults. If you have had bariatric surgery, you are at an increased risk since you have little gastric acid that protects against the parasite.

It’s noteworthy that about half of the people with giardiasis show no symptoms. However, symptoms occur after about 1 to 3 weeks following ingestion of the giardia cysts. Typically, diarrhoea is sudden, often watery, and foul-smelling. Associated symptoms include abdominal cramping, epigastric pain, belching, bloating, weight loss, and low-grade fever. Without proper treatment, symptoms may recur for months.

Giardiasis. What to do if you have it?
Giardia lamblia in the human duodenum, computer illustration. Giardia lamblia is a single-celled protozoan that has flagella for motility. It causes the disease giardiasis (or lambliasis), an infection of the small intestine most common in tropical areas. Giardia lamblia attaches using sucking discs to microvilli in the human intestine. Abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and nausea may occur. The organism is spread by direct contact or through contaminated food and water. Getty images.

We diagnose giardiasis by taking a history and physical examination followed by stool analysis to look for cysts and trophozoites.

Metronidazole is the drug of choice when treating giardiasis. You will receive fluids either orally or intravenously, depending on the level of dehydration.

Candidiasis. How to manage it.

It is safer to prevent infection by maintaining good hygiene and proper sanitation. Drink bottled or boiled water. Do not drink from springs, wells, lakes, or rivers. Wash your hands before meals and after any contamination. When children develop diarrhoea should only resume school after treatment.

 

IAmDrSsekandi

Dr A. M. Ssekandi is a medical officer, researcher, content creator, author, and founder of ssekandima.com. He does private practice with a public touch. He is a certified digital marketer. He has earned certificates in Understanding Clinical Research and Writing in Sciences from the University of Cape Town and Stanford University respectively. He also has a certificate of Good Clinical Practice from https://gcp.nidatraining.org/

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