Possible symptoms of giardia infection include fatigue, malaise, bloating and abdominal cramps, according to Mayo Clinic. Some people with giardia infection may experience watery diarrhea with a putrid odor, which may alternate with greasy, soft stools. Giardia infection may also cause gas or flatulence, weight loss and nausea.
Not everyone with a giardia infection experiences symptoms, states Mayo Clinic. The infection is spread through stool, and signs and symptoms usually appear within one to three weeks after exposure.
If nausea, loose stools or abdominal bloating occur for longer than one week, it is important to see a physician, recommends Mayo Clinic. Medical attention may be required if giardia infection causes dehydration.
People who are at risk of giardia infection include individuals who have swallowed water from a stream or lake, parents with a child in child care and travelers who have recently visited an endemic area, states Mayo Clinic.
To prevent giardia infection, it is important to wash hands before eating or preparing food, and after changing diapers or using the bathroom, advises Mayo Clinic. Campers should purify wilderness water before drinking and bottled water should be used in unsafe areas. Swimmers in natural bodies of water should maintain a closed mouth. Avoiding unprotected anal sex is another way to minimize risk of infection.