Amebiasis: what it is, symptoms, treatment, prevention and cure

What is Amebiasis?

Amoebiasis is an infection of the large intestine caused by the protozoan Entamoeba histolytica, capable of causing fever , diarrhea and the presence of whitish blood or mucus in the stool.

The protozoan affects intestinal activity, causing the patient to experience diarrhea and intestinal cramps – this is when symptoms appear.

The disease has a worldwide incidence and can infect anyone, but it usually prevails in places that lack basic sanitation, also affecting people who do not have good hygiene habits, especially babies and children who play on the floor and have the habit of placing their hands on the floor. mouth.

As for the location, it is the people who live in tropical areas who are most likely to contract the problem.

The disease affects more than 50 million people a year, but less than 1% of them die from amebiasis. In Latin America, tropical Asia and Africa, two out of three people will have the disease, but in most cases, there are no complications, as the symptoms are not noticeable.

Causes

Amoebiasis is an infection caused by the microorganism Entamoeba histolytica, a parasite that invades the human body and can bring different symptoms to patients, but it can also cause an asymptomatic condition.

Parasite life cycle

The parasite releases cysts (eggs) that can survive months in the same place where they were deposited. These places are usually the ground, the water and even the feces themselves. Having unprotected sex can also be a means of infection.

The cysts have 15 micrometers and, after entering the human body, they pass through the acidic part of the stomach and already in the intestine they transform into eight trophozoites. Some of these trophozoites multiply and cause disease, while others transform into cysts that do not adhere to the mucosa and are expelled from the body by feces.

After invading the organism, the parasite can remain installed for years without manifesting itself. Only 1 or 2 patients, for every 10 infected, have symptoms and, in such cases, it usually takes just 4 weeks for the symptoms to begin.

Streaming

Transmitted through fecal contamination, the disease can be manifested inside or outside the intestine. The ingestion of the protozoan can be done through contaminated food or drinks or it can be through direct contact with the fecal material.

Risk factors

The patients who are most likely to contract the infection by amebiasis are those who have problems or changes in immunity, leaving the body more susceptible to contamination. In addition, some behaviors, such as poor hand hygiene, can also increase the risk of contagion.

Risk factors and groups include:

Malnutrition

Malnutrition can seriously affect a person’s immune system, which facilitates amebiasis infection.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the woman’s body undergoes several immunological changes so that the system does not attack the fetus. These changes can, in some cases, facilitate mild infections such as amebiasis.

Do not wash your hands

Hygiene after using the bathroom, using public transport and any situation that may get your hands dirty is essential. If there is no proper hand washing, it is possible that protozoa as the cause of amebiasis will enter the body, especially if the person cooks without washing his hands.

Cancer

The cancer can reduce the strength of the immune system of a patient, making infections such as amoebiasis. In addition to the disease, treatment for it also tends to affect immunity. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can have effects on the immune system, leading to infections if the patient does not take care of himself.

Alcoholism

Excessive consumption of alcohol can also have a negative effect on the immune system, facilitating the entry of microorganisms such as the protozoan that causes amebiasis.

Use of corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are drugs that can act as immunosuppressants. With a weakened immune system, microorganisms can enter the body causing infections such as amoebiasis.

Unprotected sex

Amoebiasis can be transmitted through sex. The use of condoms prevents this means of transmission.

Age

Children have a developing immune system, so they are more likely to get infections. In the case of the elderly, their immunity is reduced due to age and, in these cases, it is necessary to be extra careful with hygiene.

Symptoms of Amebiasis

The symptoms can be separated by mild and severe and usually appear only seven to ten days after the disease is contracted.

Mild symptoms are usually:

  • Tiredness;
  • Abdominal discomfort and cramps;
  • Release of pasty stools with blood or mucus;
  • Excessive gases;
  • Chills;
  • Pain in the rectum during bowel movement;
  • Slimming;
  • Colitis.

Serious symptoms are usually:

  • Fever;
  • Vomiting;
  • Involvement of the lungs, brain and liver;
  • Increased evacuation (10 to 20 times a day);
  • Evacuate liquid and bloody stools;
  • Abdominal sensitivity;
  • Perforation of the intestine.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made by proctologists, infectologists, gastroenterologists and even general practitioners.

When making an appointment with the doctor, he may ask questions about how and when the symptoms appeared, if you have been to the bathroom many times and if you have traveled somewhere with poor sanitation.

To confirm the diagnosis there are some tests that can be done. Are they:

Stool examination

The most used resource is the analysis of feces, in which the presence of antigens produced by the organism in the presence of the disease is sought.

Blood test

Blood tests can be done to look for antigens that the body produces to fight the protozoan that causes amebiasis.

Intestinal biopsy

In some cases, biopsy of the intestine may also be performed, seeking to find the protozoan in the tissue.

Extra exams

Specific tests to analyze the functions of the liver, lungs and brain may be ordered, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging. These tests look for damage caused by the protozoan in other organs, seeking to ensure that complications of the disease have not set in.

Treatment for amoebiasis

Simple cases of amebiasis can be treated with anti-infectious drugs, such as metronidazole, which is usually performed for 10 days. But it is worth mentioning that the treatment time, the chosen medication and the recommendations must be evaluated by the medical professional.

Medications to treat nausea can also be taken to control symptoms.

If liver abscesses occur, needle aspiration may be necessary for diagnosis and treatment and, in rare cases, surgery may be recommended for the patient.

Medicines

The remedies commonly used in the treatment of amebiasis include:

  • Benzoylmetronidazole;
  • Doxycycline;
  • Flagyl;
  • Helmizol;
  • Annita;
  • Secnidazole;
  • Metronidazole.

Read more: How to take Secnidazole?

Attention!

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Living together

In addition to doing the treatment correctly, it is recommended to maintain a good diet, avoid eating fatty meals and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, which can occur due to diarrhea.

In general, the treatment done correctly has good responses, easing the symptoms in a short period of time.

Complications

If the disease is not treated, major problems can arise, such as:

Liver abscess

The abscess liver is an accumulation of pus that may appear in the liver due to various conditions, including amebiasis. When the protozoan reaches the liver, it can cause damage to the organ.

The spread of infection

It is not just the liver that is in danger when the parasite spreads through the body. It can reach other organs through the bloodstream. This does not always happen, but the organs most often affected are the liver, the brain and the lungs.

Therefore, it is important to go to the doctor to perform the treatment.

Prevention

As with any disease, the best way to ensure you don’t have the problem is prevention. In the case of amebiasis, the measures to be taken are:

  • Keep up with hygiene care up to date;
  • Wash food before consuming it;
  • Do not have unprotected sex;
  • Do not consume unfiltered water.

In addition, other tips are given to prevent amebiasis:

  • Avoid cheeses, milks and dairy products without being pasteurized;
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them, leaving them to soak;
  • Avoid eating in places that you do not trust in hygiene.

The ideal is always to keep your hands clean to avoid contamination and, consequently, guarantee your own health and that of your family.

Amoebiasis if left untreated can lead to serious health problems. Sharing information can also help someone close to you.

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