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Giardia Gastroenteritis - Symptoms and Treatment

Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Organisms that cause gastroenteritis include viruses, bacteria , and parasites. Rotavirus , adenovirus , Norwalk virus , and CMV are among the significant viral causes. Campylobacter , Clostridium , E. coli , Salmonella , and Staph are among the significant bacterial causes. Plague is a rare but serious cause of gastroenteritis. Giardia is a common parasite in the US that often causes chronic gastroenteritis in children. Gastroenteritis usually consists of mild to severe diarrhea that may be accompanied by loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and discomfort in the abdomen. Although gastroenteritis usually is not serious in a healthy adult, causing only discomfort and inconvenience, it can cause life-threatening dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in the very ill, the very young, and the very old. Bacterial gastroenteritis is frequently a result of poor sanitation, the lack of safe drinking water, or contaminated food conditions common in developing nations. Natural or man-made disasters can make underlying problems in sanitation and food safety worse. In developed nations, the modern food production system potentially exposes millions of people to disease-causing bacteria through its intensive production and distribution methods. Common types of bacterial gastroenteritis can be linked to Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria; however, Escherichia coli 0157 and Listeria monocytogenes are creating increased concern in developed nations. Cholera and Shigella remain two diseases of great concern in developing countries, and research to develop long-term vaccines against them is underway.

Acute gastroenteritis could be more simply called a long, and potentially lethal bout of stomach flu. The most common symptoms are diarrhea , vomiting and stomach pain, because whatever causes the condition inflames the gastrointestinal tract. Other causes include allergies , autoimmune problems, poisons, or toxins. Giardiasis can affect anyone but is more common in infants, children and adults aged 20 to 40 years. It is easily spread in childcare centres where there are children who are not toilet trained. Giardia parasites are also found in wild, pet and farm animals. Untreated water that comes directly from lakes and rivers may also contain Giardia parasites.

Causes of Giardia Gastroenteritis

Common causes and risk factor's of Giardia Gastroenteritis include the following :

  • Rotavirus.
  • Norwalk virus.
  • Hepatitis A.
  • Parasites.
  • Giardia lamblia.
  • Salmonella.
  • Escherichia coli.
  • Shigella.
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Radiation or chemotherapy.

Symptoms of Giardia Gastroenteritis

Some common Symptoms of Giardia Gastroenteritis :

  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Acute or chronic diarrhoea.
  • Weight loss.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Nausea.

Treatment of Giardia Gastroenteritis

  • Anti-infective agents such as metronidazole (Flagyl; Protostat) or quinacrine may be used for the treatment of giardiasis.
  • In pregnant women, treatment should wait until after delivery, because some of the drugs used to treat the infection may be harmful to the fetus. 
  • The drugs tinidazole, and nitazoxanide are sometimes prescribed.
  • Drink fluids such as sports drinks, diluted fruit juices, flat soda, broth, soups, or preparations such as Pedialyte for children. Fluids should be taken in small amounts frequently throughout the day.



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