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Giardiasis (cont.)

Giardia: What Are the Symptoms of Giardiasis?

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Giardiasis can show itself in different ways. Some people can be carriers of the parasite and have no symptoms of the disease, but they pass cysts in their stool and pass the disease to others. Others may develop acute or chronic diarrheal illnesses in which the symptoms occur 1-2 weeks after swallowing the cysts.

Acute diarrheal illness may have the following symptoms

  • Diarrhea: Most people with giardiasis complain of diarrhea. Stool is usually described as profuse and watery early in the disease. Later in the disease, stools become greasy, foul smelling, and often floats. Blood, pus, and mucus are usually not present. Symptoms may last for one to several weeks.
  • Weight loss, loss of appetite
  • Bloating, abdominal cramping, passing excessive gas, sulfur-tasting burps
  • Occasional nausea, vomiting, fever, rash, or constipation

Chronic diarrheal illness may have the following symptoms

  • Diarrhea: Stools are often greasy, foul smelling, yellowish, and may alternate between diarrhea and constipation.
  • Abdominal pain worsens with eating
  • Occasional headaches
  • Weight loss

Giardia: When to Seek Medical Care

Contact a doctor for appropriate diagnosis and treatment if your symptoms are consistent with giardiasis, if symptoms last despite treatment, or if any new symptoms develop. People should not automatically go to the hospital for these conditions.

However, individuals should go to an urgent care clinic or a hospital if the following symptoms develop.

  • Profuse watery diarrhea with dehydration
    • Signs and symptoms of dehydration in adults include being thirsty, feeling weak, decreased urination, no saliva or dry mouth, no tears, fast heart rate, and light-headedness.
    • Children with dehydration may also get irritable or sleepy.
  • Passing many small-volume stools with blood or mucus
  • Fever greater than 100.4 F (38 C)
  • More than 6 unformed stools in 24 hours
  • Illness longer than 48 hours
  • Diarrhea with severe abdominal pain in anyone older than 50 years
  • Diarrhea in anyone older than 70 years
  • Diarrhea in people with weakened immune systems such as those with AIDS, people receiving chemotherapy, or transplant recipients
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/26/2016

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Giardiasis »

Giardia lamblia was originally identified by von Leeuwenhoek in the 1600s and was first recognized in human stool byVilem Dusan Lambl (1824-1895) in 1859and by Alfred Giard (1846-1908) after whom it is named.

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