Of all the components of the human anatomy, by far the most delicate and susceptible to upset is the digestive tract. Giardiasis is one such ailment that affects the digestive tract. The ailment is triggered by the presence and action of the microscopic Giardia Lamblia parasite.
The Giardia Lamblia parasite lodges within the delicate lining of the small intestine in humans. From here, this intestinal parasite damages the capacity of the body to absorb and process fats and carbohydrates that come from the digested food. Giardia Lamblia is also the main causes for diarrhea. It is easily transmitted and ingested via the consumption of contaminated water. This parasite is able to survive the regular application of chlorine used to purify water. It is also observed to be able to exist for more than 2 months in very cold water!
Research on the Giardia Lamblia Parasite
Clinical research reveals that it does not take more than ten giardia lamblia parasites present in a glass of drinking water to cause severe Giardiasis. Young children, with delicate immunity and tolerance to the parasites are more likely to fall victim to Giardiasis. This observation has backed the observation that our bodies gradually develop a kind of immunity to the Giardia Lamblia parasite as we grow older. It is estimated that the number of affected people is higher in developing countries. This parasitic infection results in being the major cause of epidemic childhood diarrhea observed in these countries. Unfortunately, the infection does not manifest in more than two thirds of the people whose intestines are home to the Giardia Lamblia parasite!
When and as the severity of the infection does manifest, it surfaces in the form of diarrhea, but without blood or mucus. The diarrhea is observed to contain much of the unabsorbed fats due to the infected body’s inability to absorb the fats from the diet. The other commonly observed symptoms include abdominal cramps, intestinal gas and a subsequently enlarged belly, loss of appetite, nausea and fever.
The symptoms of Giardiasis could be observed for a time frame of 5 to 7 days or even longer, depending on the extent of the infection. In severe cases, especially in children; the child may lose a considerable amount of weight. Many a times, after the acute symptoms settle in, the infection takes the form of a chronic phase, which is more prolonged. Of course, all symptoms of parasites will differ from person to person.
Preventing & Treating Giardiasis
There are certain measures that can be adopted at the home level, to eradicate the possible exposure to Giardiasis caused by the Giardia Lamblia parasite. You should inculcate the habit of drinking water only from water resources that are approved by the local health authorities as ‘safe’. In event of camping or hiking, you should ideally carry along your own drinking water.
The consumption of raw fruits and vegetables should be only after washing them thoroughly before you eat them. It is essential to wash your hands well before cook, serving and ensure that the rest of the family does the same, prior to eating. In event of someone in the family being treated for Giardiasis, you should wash your hands often as you care for him or her. It is very important to have the self built water resource, like a well, certified by the authorities, on a regular basis.
It has been observed that people and animals infected by the Giardia Lamblia parasite, can excrete the parasite in their stool, which in turn can contaminate public water supplies. Uncooked food ingredients rinsed in contaminated water are also potent carriers of the parasite. Doctors confirm the infection through the diagnosis of Giardiasis via the presence of the parasites in an infected person’s stool. Several samples may be needed by the test centers, before the parasites are detected.
The diagnosis can also be done by observing the lining of the small intestine through endoscopy. The samples from inside the intestine are then sent to a laboratory. Giardiasis is treated with prescription medicines that kill the parasites. The treatment takes anything between 5 and 7 days. The prescribed medication should be taken as per the scheduled doses set by the doctor. It includes the intake of plenty of fluids, but not caffeinated beverages. There are drugs that could be administered for the cramps.
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