Giardiasis is an intestinal infection that is marked by abdominal bloating, cramps, bouts of watery diarrhea and nausea. Giardiasis is caused by a microscopic parasite and mostly occurs in areas with unsafe water and poor sanitation. Giardiasis is among one of the most common causes of waterborne disease. Giardiasis infections usually dissipate within few weeks but may leave you with intestinal problems after the parasites are gone.
- Metronidazole (Flagyl)
- Tinidazole (Tindamax)
- Nitazoxanide (Alinia)
Giardiasis symptoms do not show or affect some people, but they can still carry the parasite and have the ability to spread it to others through their stool. Signs and symptoms of Giardiasis do appear one to three weeks after exposure for those who get sick. Some of the Giardiasis symptoms may include the following:
- Watery, sometimes foul-smelling diarrhea that may alternate with soft, greasy stools
- Gas or flatulence
- Weight loss
- Fatigue or malaise
- Abdominal cramps and bloating
The above-stated symptoms for those who have Giardiasis may last two to six weeks. However, there are some people with Giardiasis whose symptoms may last longer or recur.
Giardiasis parasites live in animals’ and people’s intestines. Giardiasis infections normally occur when you accidentally ingest the parasite cysts. There are several ways in which this can happen. Some of the Giardiasis causes include the following:
- Swallowing contaminated water – this is the most common way to be infected with Giardiasis. Giardiasis parasites are found in rivers, ponds, lakes, and streams worldwide.
- Eating contaminated food – eating unclean food can be a Giardiasis cause. This can through not washing hands when handling raw products or washing raw products with contaminated water.
- Person to person contact – if your hands are contaminated with fecal matter, you are at risk of contracting Giardiasis. Children care workers and parents changing diapers are examples of people at risk of getting Giardiasis.
Your healthcare provider will like take a sample of your stool to help in diagnosing Giardiasis. You may be requested to submit several stool samples for accuracy that are collected over a period of days. The samples are then taken to a laboratory facility to be tested for the presence of parasites.
There are several test that may be done to confirm a Giardiasis diagnosis.
- Stool antigen to check for Giardiasis
- Stool ova and parasite exam
- String test
The stool tests that you provide can be helpful in monitoring the effectiveness of any treatment that you receive. A doctor may decide to do a string test, but this is rarely required.
Adults and children who have Giardiasis infections but do not present any symptoms usually do not require treatment unless they are likely to spread the parasites. Most people who have Giardiasis often get better on their own in a few weeks. However, when you notice that the sign and symptoms of Giardiasis are persisting, your healthcare provider will treat it. The following medications are typical Giardiasis treatments.
- Nitazoxanide (Alinia) – Nitazoxanide comes in liquid form making it easier for children to swallow. However, it does have its side effects such as flatulence, nausea, bright yellow urine, and yellow eyes.
- Metronidazole (Flagyl) – this is the most common used antibiotic that is used to treat Giardiasis infection. Its side effects include a metallic taste in the mouth and nausea.