Giardia is an infection of the system. The infection can cause diarrhoea, nausea, and stomach ache. it’s very common.
Giardia infections don’t always cause symptoms. Some people carry the parasite that causes Giardia without ever knowing it. When symptoms do happen, they can include:
- Diarrhoea that comes on suddenly and that can start off watery
- Feeling ill
- Having bowel movements that are fatty and smell worse than usual
- Belly cramps, gas, and bloating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weight loss
It depends. See your Gastroenterologist if you:
- Have severe diarrhoea, meaning it happens many times in a day
- Have severe belly pain
- Cannot eat or drink
- Have a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C)
Young children and older adults with symptoms should make sure to see their Gastroenterologist. That’s because these groups can get dehydrated more easily than people.
Giardia infections can spread in 3 ways:
- From person to person – The parasite that causes Giardia lives in bowel movements of individuals who are infected. you can catch Giardia from another person if they do not wash hands after a bowel movement and so touch you. The same is true for somebody who changes a diaper on a baby or an adult and so does not wash his or her hands.
- Through food – The parasite that causes Giardia can live on food. Cooking kills it. But if food is not cooked or not handled the right way, it can carry Giardia.
- Through water – The parasite that causes Giardia can live in water sources that people drink from. For instance, Giardia can live in streams or drinking wells. People who camp and hike are at risk of getting Giardia if they drink water from lakes or streams without treating the water properly first.
Yes. If your Gastroenterologist thinks you might have Giardia, he or she will ask you for a laxation sample. At the lab, the sample can be checked for Giardia and other infections that can cause the same symptoms as Giardia.
Treatment for Giardia involves taking an antibiotic medicine for several days. In most cases, that gets rid of the infection and its symptoms. In some cases, though, Giardia does not get better with the primary round of antibiotics. If that happens, Gastroenterologists usually suggest changing the type or dose of antibiotic, or increasing the length of time a person is treated.
If you do not have symptoms of Giardia, you might not need antibiotics – even if your test shows you have the infection. Some people with Giardia can beat the infection without treatment. But children in day-care and people who work with food should be treated for Giardia, even if they have no symptoms. This helps prevent the spread of infection.