Alternative NamesGiardia; Traveler's diarrhea – giardiasis
What is Giardiasis
Giardiasis is a parasitic intestinal infection caused by the organism Giardia lamblia which is found in areas of poor sanitation with contaminated water.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms generally appear one to two weeks after the infection and may include:
- Soft, greasy foul smelling stool
- Abdominal cramps and bloating
- Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite
- Anorexia, malaise, fatigue along with low grade fever
- Cycles ranging from watery diarrhea to soft stools to constipation
- Acid reflux leading to heartburn and foul smelling oral odor (halitosis)
- Malabsorption (inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract)
- Weight loss
Giardia lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals. Millions of germs can be released in a bowel movement from an infected human or animal. You can become infected after accidentally ingesting the parasite.
Giardia may be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals.
- Use a water purification method such as boiling, filtration, or iodine treatment before drinking surface water. Hikers or others who use surface water should consider all sources as potentially contaminated
- Workers in day care centers or institutions should use good handwashing and hygiene techniques when going from child to child or patient to patient.
- Safer sexual practices, especially regarding anal sex, may decrease the risk of contracting or spreading giardiasis.
Some infections go away on their own. Anti-infective medicines may be used. Cure rates are generally greater than 80%. Drug resistance may be a factor in treatment failures, sometimes requiring a change in antibiotic therapy.
In pregnant women, treatment should wait until after delivery, because some of the drugs used to treat the infection can be harmful to the unborn baby.