What Are Symptoms and Information on the Giardia Parasite?


Quick Answer

Giardia is a parasite that can cause giardiasis, an illness that presents itself with symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, poor appetite, dehydration and weight loss, according to MedlinePlus. Giardiasis may also trigger headaches, fever and nausea.

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Full Answer

The tiny Giardia parasite can thrive in soil, food, water and surfaces with fecal contamination. The parasite has an outer shell that helps prolong its life and provide resistance to chlorination, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Individuals usually contract the Giardia parasite by drinking water from unsafe or untreated sources. They may also pick up the parasite by eating contaminated food, touching contaminated surfaces or making contact with people with giardiasis. Individuals usually display symptoms of giardiasis around one to three weeks after infection. The symptoms generally last two to six weeks, but they may linger in some cases, states the CDC.

Doctors can confirm Giardia infections with tests involving stool samples, says MedlinePlus. Individuals with minor symptoms may not require treatment. However, individuals with serious or persistent symptoms may require antibiotic medication. To reduce the risk of contracting giardiasis, practice good hygiene and safe sex. Only drink purified water and also wash raw fruits and vegetables with purified water before consumption.

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