Medical History and Physical Exam for Giardiasis
A standard physical exam is usually done when giardiasis is suspected. Some doctors include a rectal exam. A stool analysis often is done to look for signs of the parasite. The stool sample can often be collected at home and then returned to the doctor for evaluation.
The medical history will include questions about recent possible exposure, including:
Why It Is Done
The medical history and physical exam are done to evaluate possible symptoms of giardiasis, especially persistent diarrhea.
Except for diarrhea and other gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, results of the physical exam are generally normal for people who have giardiasis. But some weight loss [up to 10 lb (4.5 kg) or more] is common.
Diarrhea that has lasted longer than 7 to 10 days usually suggests giardiasis, especially if there are signs that the intestine is not absorbing nutrients properly. These signs include passing a large amount of gas, excessive burping, lactose intolerance, or passing greasy stools.
Symptoms that are not typical of giardiasis may be caused by other intestinal infections or conditions. Depending on the specific symptoms and medical history, additional tests may be done to evaluate other possible causes of diarrhea.
What To Think About
Symptoms can start to occur long after exposure, so be sure to tell your doctor if you may have swallowed untreated water. Even very small amounts of untreated water can contain enough Giardia lamblia to cause infection.
Exposure to Giardia lamblia through day care or nursing home employees may be more difficult to remember or link to the start of symptoms.
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