10 Symptoms of Giardia

Giardia is a waterborne parasite that can cause an infection known as giardiasis in the intestinal tracts of its host. This parasite is found in water around the world but thrives in unsanitary conditions and untreated water. This does not mean that having access to treated water from your local municipality will eliminate the risk since the parasite can survive in treated water, city water, wells, and swimming pools; however, having access to clean water is the first step in disease prevention.

Exposure happens primarily through water, but patients can also contract the parasite through eating food that was prepared with water that has active parasites. Giardia can also be transmitted from person-to-person contact as the giardia parasite can be present in stool and transmitted through unsanitary conditions or through common everyday contact, such as diaper changing of infected infants, or through lack of good handwashing hygiene. People at greatest risk for exposure are those with no access to clean water. Further at-risk groups include children who often are in the early stages of learning personal and handwashing hygiene; those who care for young children are also at greater risk as well.

Giardiasis is a treatable infection with different prescription drugs that kill the parasites. It is important to seriously evaluate the signs of giardiasis and seek treatment because of the complications that can occur with severe and long-lasting cases of giardiasis, such as weight loss and failure to thrive among children due to chronic diarrhea as well as the risk to all populations for complications due to severe dehydration.

1. Abdomen Pain

Abdomen pain is one of the most common symptoms of giardiasis onset. Most people who have been exposed to the giardia parasite do not begin to show symptoms until a week to ten days after exposure. Abdomen pain may present itself as a sudden cramp that eases or it may present itself as a series of chronic, ongoing cramps with varying levels of pain. When visiting the doctor to test for giardia infection, the doctor may examine the person by pressing on their abdomen to test for any tenderness or sensitivity due to the infection. Abdominal pain may also be linked to the onset of other digestive symptoms.

For many patients who contract the giardia parasite and do not realize it or do not seek or have access to treatment, the parasitic infection can and will run its course over the span of anywhere from two to six weeks. In some cases, however, the parasite can linger for months or, more rare, for years, and cause ongoing abdomen pain as well as other symptoms. This pain can be debilitating for the patient; additionally, the ongoing pain and the chronic symptoms that are seen in long-term giardiasis can cause health complications, especially for patients such as young children who are still actively growing.