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Amoebiasis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About amoebiasis

Amoebiasis is an infectious disease of the gastro-intestinal tract caused by a parasite named Entamoeba histolytica.

Amoebiasis: Incidence, age and sex

A high incidence of amoebiasis is seen in the general population. It may occur in any age group, from childhood to adulthood. The frequency of occurrence of this disease is higher in developing countries where sanitation is poor. No gender bias is noted.

Causes and prevention of amoebiasis

An individual may get infected with the parasite Entamoeba histolytica by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Moreover amoebiasis is infectious in nature and can be transmitted from person to person through faeco-oral route.

Several measures can be taken to prevent the occurrence of recurrence of amoebiasis including washing of hands with soap and water before meals. Adequate sanitation and good personal hygiene may avert this infection. Moreover it is advisable to avoid raw fruits and vegetables at social gatherings. Proper storage of food helps in preventing their exposure to the offending parasite.

Signs and symptoms of amoebiasis: Diagnosis

The clinical picture of amoebiasis varies from absence of any feature to severe clinical presentations. The clinical features may take days or weeks to present after exposure. In majority of individuals the clinical picture remains asymptomatic. The symptoms when present include cramping stomach pains, diarrhoea and nausea. Sometimes blood and mucus in stools may also be present. Change in bowel habits and a feeling of incomplete evacuation are other associated features. Loss of weight and low grade fever may occur later in the course of infection. Recurrence of amoebiasis is a fairly common phenomenon.

Amoebiasis: Complications

Amoebiasis if left untreated, may affect other organs of the body. The offending parasite may invade other organs via blood and lead to liver abscess, lung abscess, brain abscess or in extremes instances inflammation of lining of heart which is called pericarditis. Liver abscess is the most common complication of amoebiasis.

Amoebiasis: Treatment

The diagnosis of amoebiasis is established by specific blood and stool tests. Examination of blood may show an increase in white blood cells and raised ESR. Impaired liver function tests may indicate if amoebiasis has invaded the liver tissue. Microscopic stool examination may confirm the diagnosis of amoebiasis.

The doctor may prescribe medication which will help to destroy the parasites. Such medication include metronidazole, tinidazole or diloxanide furoate. Minor side effects like nausea and metallic taste in mouth may be observed with these drugs. You may also be prescribed some medications for diarrhoea, if present. It is advisable to drink a lot of fluid to avoid dehydration which might accompany vomiting and lose stools.