Giardiasis involves infection of the intestines which is brought about by the Giardia lamblia parasite. This condition is often an issue in underdeveloped countries where tap water is not safe.
An individual can become infected with giardiasis if consuming food or beverages contaminated by human or animal wastes. One is also at risk after drinking untreated water from streams, wells, lakes and rivers. This is also true even in mountain streams and lakes in which the water might appear pure. Remember that the infection can also develop if swallowing contaminated water while swimming.
What are the indications?
Giardiasis can trigger symptoms such as:
- Abdominal cramps
The individual might also feel sick once and get better. In some cases, the symptoms might come and go for some time. Some with the condition do not grow or gain weight normally. Oftentimes, it does not trigger any symptoms.
Once the individual is exposed to the parasite, it can take 7-10 days for the infection to develop but can take up to 3-25 days or even longer. The infection can spread to others while infected. Remember that one can be infected for months even if there are no symptoms.
When dealing with giardiasis, the doctor might prescribe medications to eliminate the parasite. The treatment also reduces the chances of spreading it to others. It is vital to take the medications as prescribed so that the infection will not recur.
In some instances, testing is required even if there are no symptoms. If the tests show that the individual is infected, treatment is recommended even if there are no symptoms.
If diarrhea is present, encourage eating small amounts of bland food until the individual starts to feel better to allow the bowels to rest. In addition, take frequent sips of clear fluids such as rehydration drinks to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid drinking untreated water.
- When travelling to high-risk areas, only drink bottled water and avoid raw vegetables and fruits.
- Always wash hands to prevent acquiring the condition from infected individuals. This is vital not only after changing diapers or using the toilet but also before preparing food.