Symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting can be signs of a condition called giardiasis. This disease, characterized by intestinal irregularity, is caused by a protozoan and, second Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)its prevalence is higher in temperate climates and in children.
Do you know what the pathogen is that causes this ailment and how it is transmitted, do you know its clinical picture? Solving these questions is essential to address this pathology and to avoid it. Therefore, in the following we detail the most relevant aspects of giardiasis in humans.
About the genus Giardia
Before addressing the clinical picture of this pathology, it is essential to have a brief understanding of the causative agent. It is a special case, because this disease is caused neither by a virus nor by a bacterium, but by a protozoan.
We are before the species giardia lamblia “is not Englisha flagellated protozoan belonging to the order Diplomonadid. It is a parasite of various mammals, including humans, and settles in the small intestine, from where it causes the aforementioned giardiasis.
Its dimensions are small, less than 20 micrometres, and out of curiosity it lacks some organelles such as the mitochondria, which are very important in the cellular functioning of most living beings.
A complex life cycle
Unlike many other parasites, giardia It has only one host during its entire life cycle (in this case, the human being). Despite its low complexity as a living being, It presents two very different forms during its development.
- trophozoite: motile and flagellate form. As they documented microbiological clinical studiesit has a sucker-shaped disc on its ventral surface, which allows it to adhere to the epithelium of the intestine.
- Cyst: motionless form without flagella. It is a structure generated in such a way that the living being resists outside the host and has an infectious capacity.
Giardiasis: symptoms and treatment
Giardiasis is contracted from ingestion of cysts in contaminated water or food. The cysts are expelled with the patient’s feces, and these can remain in the environment for a long time.
Therefore, a bad washing or water purification system can endanger an entire population from this disease.
THE symptoms in the case of giardiasis they can vary from patient to patient. However, the typical clinical picture presented is as follows:
- loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or stools of a greasy nature.
- Bloating and abdominal pain.
- Weight loss.
- Excessive flatulence.
Most of these symptoms are the product of joining giardia on the intestinal epithelium. This external pathogen causes a thickening of the microvilli of the intestinewhich reduces the surface area of exposure and generates various physiological imbalances of variable severity.
Treatment of giardiasis
Despite some scientific articles collect that there are strains of giardia resistant to some commonly used drugs, those usually prescribed for giardiasis are as follows:
- Metronidazole: an antibiotic that must be consumed for a week to eradicate the infection. Its consumption is not pleasant, as it can cause nausea and leaves a metallic taste on the palate.
- Tinidazole: as effective as the previous one and usually kills the pathogen in a single dose.
- Nitazoxanide: a good choice for children, as it effectively treats diarrhea. It is present in liquid form and you only need to take it three times.
- Paromomycin: another antibiotic for medical and veterinary use for the treatment of giardiasis.
As with all diseases, there are some population groups who appear to have a higher propensity to be infected with this disease.
- Children: they are more prone to contact with faecal matter than adults, as they often play in unsanitary environments or with partners who have been in contact with their own excrement. For this reason, giardiasis has such an age-biased epidemiological pattern.
- People in low-income countries without access to treated water: as we have seen, cysts can remain in the environment for a long time. Water is a very efficient method of transmission and transport, so water without proper treatment can harbor the pathogen.
- People who engage in anal sex: quite obvious, as it increases the likelihood of fecal matter infection.
What to remember about giardiasis?
Giardiasis is a disease with a heterogeneous clinical picture, which is mainly transmitted in unsanitary environments. Therefore, it is essential to disinfect food well and always hydrate with bottled water, especially in temperate places, isolated from urban centers.
When faced with a suspicion of gastrointestinal disease, going to the doctor will always be the first option, Well, with a number of medications, the infection will subside within days.
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