Humans are certainly not the only creature to be living on this earth. Humans live with many other creatures and that what makes a human life is more than just about taking care of themselves. Small creatures or microorganisms can have an effect on human health. Since humans are unable to spot this creature with the naked eyes, humans may tend to take things lightly until the microorganism is able to make them sick. This is why it is important to take care of your health so that you are always protected against these possible infections. One of the many infections we will focus on here is Giardia.
Giardia is a very small parasite that causes a disease known as giardiasis. It typically causes infection to the small intestine. It is a serious disease especially when it affects children. Giardia is commonly found or exists on surfaces or soil, food and water that has been contaminated with faeces from people or animals that have been infected by giardiasis. A person can be infected by Giardia when he or she swallows the parasite. Exposure to the human faeces during sexual contact may contribute to the risk for giardiasis. A person swimming in a pool containing Giardia from a person having giardiasis, the water itself can be contaminated with millions of germs. Thus, swallowing even a small amount of pool water can make a person prone to the infection.
Do you know that there are Giardia infections in pets? The good thing is, the chances for people to be infected by Giardia from pets such as dogs and cats, are relatively low. This is because the type of Giardia that is able to infect humans are usually not similar to the types affecting animals. However, some strains of Giardia can be shared between humans and animals such as birds, monkeys and chinchillas. Thus, it is best to contact a veterinarian for more information especially when pets show symptoms of Giardia infection.
People with Giardia may or may not have any symptoms. Symptoms usually begin in 1 to 2 weeks after being infected by Giardia. Short-term symptoms include diarrhoea, feeling gassy, foul-smelling and greasy stool that float in the water, abdominal pain or cramp, nausea, vomiting and dehydration. Symptoms in general start with 2 to 5 loose stools a day with increased feeling of extreme tiredness. Other less common symptoms include fever, itchy skin, swollen eyes or joints and skin rash or hives. As time goes by, it can lead to weight loss and affect the ability for the body to absorb the needed nutrients such as fat and vitamin A.
In most cases, people with giardiasis will feel better and have no symptoms within 2 to 6 weeks. Even though, in some cases, symptoms may seem to clear up but return in several days or weeks. Occasionally, people with giardiasis have long-term complications such as reactive arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and recurring diarrhoea that can last for years. As mentioned previously, giardiasis can affect children in a serious manner. It can delay physical and mental growth, slow development and cause malnutrition.
Diagnosis is made after the doctor evaluates the symptoms and laboratory test to confirm the presence of Giardia in the stool of someone that is sick. At times, doctors can be unsure if Giardia is causing the sickness since people with Giardia infection do not pass Giardia in every stool. Thus, doctors may ask patients to submit several stool samples collected over several days to see for the presence of Giardia.
Treatment typically aims at ensuring the person is well hydrated. This is done by making sure patients drink plenty of fluids. Children and pregnant women are likely to become easily dehydrated from Giardia infection. Thus, it is important for these two groups of people to get medical advice and discuss treatment options. Since Giardia infection is difficult to be diagnosed, medical history and symptoms are adequate for doctors to provide treatment as these two information support the possibility of Giardia infection. Medications such as metronidazole may be given to help speed up healing.
You probably wonder if Giardia can go away on its own. Yes, it can when the infections are mild. However, since a patient might not know or understand if symptoms are actually mild or severe, it is best for the patient to get checked by doctors as doctors can evaluate and provide an assuring answer.
In essence, giardiasis is an infection caused by parasites. It is important to get treatment for children with giardiasis symptoms as being left untreated may lead to complications that can scar them for life. Patients need to make sure they give clear information when getting checked by doctors as giardiasis may be difficult to be diagnosed.