Amebiasis is one of the most recurrent parasitic diseases and worrisome, very common in tropical and hot climates. Sometimes it is usually asymptomatic, however, it is necessary to know each of its symptoms to avoid complications with the intestinal mucosa. Also, if it is not treated in time, it is likely to spread to other organs.
Below, you’ll find helpful information on causes, diagnosis, and treatment.
Definition of the disease
It is an intestinal infection caused by microscopic parasites such as: Entamoeba histolytica, Entamoeba dispar and Entamoeba moshkovskii. It develops by consuming food or water that is contaminated by amoebae, in a latent state or cystic phase. Likewise, when they evolve they become trophozoites or active, which later multiply. This problem occurs in the large intestine, and occasionally causes ulcers.
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Therefore, if the condition is not treated in time it could attack other organs such as the liver. Also, amebiasis affects any individual as it is transmitted from person to person. It often evolves frequently in tropical areas with poor sanitation. It is important to mention that people exposed to these parasites may have mild, severe, or no symptoms.
Usually, people who contract this parasitic disease do not have any symptoms. However, in the case of presenting any, it is after 7 to 28 days after the infection. The symptoms are:
- Excessive flatulence.
- Abdominal cramps
- Constipation or intermittent diarrhea. Many times the stool has mucus and blood.
- Bowel movements up to 20 times a day, involuntarily.
- High fever.
- Frequent vomiting
- Abdominal tenderness
Phases of amebiasis
It is possible that this disease becomes very serious when people have other pathologies. Among them are, cancer, alcoholism, malnutrition, patients with diabetes. As well as, it would be risky in pregnant women and the elderly. Amebiasis develops in two phases:
- Acute phase: it is usually the most serious. Infected people have abdominal pain and bloody stools. In addition, the duration range is from weeks to months to achieve a complete healing.
- Chronic phase: the individual infected with the parasites presents frequent diarrhea and constipation. If it is not treated in time, it is likely to be life threatening.
Entamoeba histolytica usually lodges in the large intestine and sometimes does not cause any damage. In several cases it infects the walls of the colon and produces acute dysentery colitis or prolonged diarrhea. In addition, if the problem is more serious, it would spread to the brain, lungs or other organs.
On the other hand, it is important to mention that amoebas manage to spread in different ways, such as the following:
- Through water or food contaminated with feces.
- Through fertilizer made with waste.
- In contact with the mouth or rectal area of infected people.
- In people who reside in institutions or travel, where this disease is common.
Results will generally appear within a week or two of becoming infected. To determine the existence of amoebiasis, a stool examination should be carried out. The purpose is to verify that the parasite has entered the body, therefore, several exhaustive analyzes must be carried out.
Therefore, physical evidence and consultations with the specialist must be presented. After that, if it is still not determined, it is necessary to carry out a confirmatory analysis by means of blood studies. Another form of effective diagnosis is to detect the presence of amoeba DNA in the stool.
Treatment for amebiasis consists of:
- Supply of antibiotics, Metronidazole is the most effective for this disease. Above all, cases in the chronic phase.
- Drink plenty of fluids and serums to avoid dehydration.
- Asymptomatic people, who have been positive in the tests, should also be treated with diloxanide furoate, iodoquinol or paramomycin, to eliminate the cysts.
- When amoebic liver abscess is present and metrodinazole therapy fails, specialists usually add chloroquine to treatment.
How to prevent amebiasis
The best way to avoid this disease is to maintain good hygiene. Similarly, it is advisable to follow these recommendations:
- Wash food very well before consuming it.
- Avoid eating raw meats.
- Do not drink water in areas where the disease is frequent.
- After going to the bathroom, wash your hands very well, before touching any object.
- In case a person is infected in a family group, thorough hygiene measures should be taken. For example: wash the bathroom frequently, use hot water and disinfectants.