Amebiasis - Symptoms & Treatment
Amebiasis is a parasitic infection of the large intestine. Most cases of amebiasis have very mild symptoms or none. People can have the ameba in their intestines and excrete amebic cysts, but have no symptoms. It is caused by Entamoeba histolytica, a microscopic one-celled parasite. Entamoeba histolytica exists in two forms: as an active parasite (trophozoite) and as a dormant parasite (cyst). Infection begins when cysts are swallowed. This condition can be seen anywhere in the world, but it is most common in tropical areas with crowded living conditions and poor sanitation. There are an estimated 50 million cases worldwide of amebiasis with 40,000 to 50,000 deaths annually. Amebiasis is most commonly transmitted when a person eats food or drinks water contaminated with E. histolytica cysts. Less common means of transmission include contaminated water, oral and anal practices, and direct rectal inoculation through colonic irrigation devices. The infection can also spread through the blood to the liver and, rarely, to the lungs, brain or other organs.
Some people with amebiasis may carry the parasite for weeks to years, often without symptoms. In severe cases, ulcers may form in the intestinal wall; the amebae gain access to the bloodstream and travel to the liver to form abscesses. A child with amebiasis may complain of abdominal pain that begins gradually, with frequent loose or watery bowel movements. It is most serious in infants, the elderly, and debilitated people. It also is found in people who have traveled to developing countries and in people who live in institutions that have poor sanitary conditions. Amebiasis also may occur and spread in places with proper sanitation if incontinence and poor hygiene are present.
Causes of Amebiasis
The common causes and risk factor's of Amebiasis include the following:
- A microscopic parasite called Entamoeba histolytica.
- Putting anything into the mouth that has touched the stool of an infected person.
- Use of steroids.
- Swallowing water or food that has been contaminated with Entamoeba histolytica.
- Recent travel to a tropical region is also a risk factor.
Symptoms of Amebiasis
Some symptoms related to Amebiasis are as follows:
- Stomach pain.
- Abdominal bloating and cramps.
- Stomach cramping.
- Diarrhea (sometimes bloody or with mucus).
- Mucus and blood in the stool.
- Unintentional weight loss.
Treatment of Amebiasis
Here is list of the methods for treating Amebiasis:
- Amebiasis can usually be cured with an antimicrobial medication.
- Oral antiparasitic medication is the standard treatment for amebiasis.
- Several drugs, such as iodoquinol, paromomycin, and diloxanide can be used to kill the cysts in the stool.
- When the patient is vomiting, intravenous therapy may be necessary until medications can be tolerated by mouth.
- Hospitalization might be needed for children who become moderately or severely dehydrated or for those with problems in organs other than the digestive tract, such as the liver.
- Surgical intervention may be necessary in the management of amebiasis in a few select situations.