Giardiasis is an infection in your small intestine. It’s caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia. Giardiasis spreads through contact with infected people. Pet dogs and cats also frequently contract giardia. You can also get giardiasis by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Giardia can be found all over the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, it’s more common in overcrowded developing countries that lack sanitary conditions and water quality control. Some people can carry giardia parasites without experiencing any symptoms. Symptoms of giardiasis generally show up one or two weeks after exposure. Common symptoms include:
• diarrhea or greasy stools
• loss of appetite
• bloating and abdominal cramps
• weight loss
• excessive gas
• abdominal pain
HOW IS GIARDIASIS DIAGNOSED?
Your general physician may diagnose the condition with one or two stool samples. The stools of the infected person will contain the giardia parasites. An endoscopy may also be performed.
HOW IS GIARDIASIS TREATED?
Many prescription drugs are available to treat giardiasis. To prevent dehydration, infants and pregnant women should drink a lot of fluids while ill. Dehydration can be life threatening for infants, so it is especially important that parents talk to their healthcare providers about treatment options for their infants. Certain antibiotics are commonly used to treat giardiasis.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pregnant women are advised not to take any medications to treat the condition until after delivery.