What Is Giardiasis And How To Prevent Your Child From It?


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Giardiasis is an infection of the small intestine, which may occur due to ingestion of certain contaminated substances.

Popularly known as beaver fever, this infection affects millions of people around the world. It has been found that Giardia infections are common in Canada, and higher number of infections are noted in the summer months. Individuals residing in regions which do not have access to clean drinking water facilities such as Africa, Asia and Latin America are at a higher risk of being affected by this condition.

The parasite that causes the infection is thought to exist freely in the intestine, which also marks its first stage of life. Giardia infections usually clear up after a few weeks. While presently there are several drugs for the treatment of this condition, a lot of people have failed to respond to the drugs.

Causes Of Giardiasis:

A protozoan known as Giardia lamblia is known to be the cause of giardia infection, and it is known to occur in many anim

als such as sheep, cows, rodents and beavers. Fecal transmission or ingestion of contaminated water that contains this protozoan is thought to be the major cause of this condition. This is also the most commonly identified intestinal found in the US.

Giardiasis is a food and waterborne disease. The parasite is normal in its initial stages; however, it may produce cysts, which are basically resistant forms of the parasite. These cysts then reproduce in the intestine and cause the life cycle of the parasite to continue there.

It has also been found that certain people may be healthy carriers of the disease, i.e., that they may be carrying the parasite, which will not harm them. But these individuals are infective and thus may contribute to the transfer of the disease to others. This explains why those in child and day care centres tend to have an increased risk of being affected by giardia infections.

Signs And Symptoms:

Because of its similarity of its symptoms, giardiasis may often be mistaken for another digestive complaint such as food poisoning or stomach infection. Here we’ve listed down some common giardiasis symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive gas production
  • Burping
  • Bloating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Frequent stomach upset
  • Loose or watery stools
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Projectile vomiting (in rare cases)
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes (less common)

[ Read: Reasons For Loss Of Appetite In Children ]

It has been found that these signs and symptoms last for six weeks or more, and generally, this condition is asymptomatic. Only one third of patients actually suffering from this condition develop these signs and symptoms.

Some studies have also found that a deficiency of vitamin B12 could also be linked to giardia infections.

Giardiasis Treatment Options:

Microscopic examination of the stool is the best way to detect the presence of this condition. Since this condition is often asymptomatic, early detection and treatment becomes difficult. It is believed that in most cases, treatment is not necessary since the situation resolves on its own; however, in case of adverse reactions and symptoms, medications may be prescribed.

Since this condition tends to spread quickly, your doctor may recommend the treatment of your family at the same time as you, to prevent them from suffering from the symptoms as well. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure you mention that to your doctor.

Consumption of electrolyte fluids and water is essential at this stage, especially if you have been dehydrated due to diarrhea or are suffering from increased weakness. Oral dehydration solutions can be easily picked up from a pharmacy store and consumed as per requirement.


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