Giardia lamblia (intestinalis) is an infection caused by a non-visible intestinal parasite, commonly infecting many via drinking or recreational water. Giardiasis is this parasite’s causing illness or disease, and is spread through contaminated feces.
Various common modes for Giardia to find its way into your intestines are:
- eating uncooked food
- picked it up from surfaces
- swallowing recreational water
- swallowing or putting something in your mouth
Some examples of recreational water that may be contaminated with Giardia lamblia include:
- hot tubs
- swimming pools
You may pick up Giardia from surfaces, like:
- diaper pails
- changing tables
- bathroom fixtures
Giardiasis can cause a variety of parasitic intestinal symptoms, such as:
Some with giardiasis have no symptoms. But for those that do, these symptoms can last 2-6 weeks, and sometimes leads to dehydration and weight loss.
Anyone can get giardiasis, but some categories of higher risk groups include:
- child care workers
- day care attendees
- international travelers
- shallow water well drinkers
- parents of infected children
- backpackers, hikers and campers
- lake, river, pond and stream swimmers
Treatment is not necessary for those without symptoms, many often get better on their own within a couple of weeks. Treatment for mild parasite symptoms of diarrhea is replenishing lost fluid and salts. Adults replacement programs simply includes:
- soft fruits
- fruit juices
Children, on the other hand, may require a more nutritious bang per ounce, as found in:
Taking medicines to stop diarrhea, like Imodium, Pepto Bismol and Kaopectate, can be helpful.
When you begin to feel better, start off by eating soft, bland food:
- plain rice
- cooked carrots
- boiled potatoes
- baked chicken ~ no skin
Children should eat the BRAT diet ~ bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
For those with a severe or persistent infection, antibiotics from your doctor are available for giardiasis treatment.
Giardia lamblia infection is very contagious, so some ways to help avoid your spreading it to others or being contaminated yourself is to:
- wash produce
- wash hands after using the toilet
- wash hands before handling or eating food
- wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often
- do not swim in recreational water for at least 2 weeks after your bout with diarrhea
As with most contagious infectious diseases, washing your hands regularly is the single most important health maintenance and prevention measure.