Symptoms and Causes of Amebiasis | Gastroenterology


What is amebiasis?

Amebiasis is a parasitic disease (also known as amoebic diarrhea and/or amoebiasis) caused by Entamoeba histolytica or another amoeba infection (eg, E. dispar). Most people with the disease may have no symptoms. E. histolytica produces symptoms in only 10% of infected people.

A single-celled or unicellular, flash-shaped, or changeable organism usually produces diarrhea and occasional additional invasive intestinal problems (invasive amebiasis), usually involving tumors of the liver and other organs. The disease is more common in people who live in tropical areas where sanitary conditions are poor. Amebiasis is estimated to cause between 50,000 and 100,000 deaths worldwide each year.

Alternate name

  • Amoebic dysentery

Symptoms of amebiasis

When symptoms do occur, they appear 1 to 4 weeks after the cysts are removed. According to a trusted source from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 10 to 20 percent of people with amebiasis get sick from it. Symptoms at this stage are mild and include loose stools and abdominal cramps.

Once the trophozoites penetrate the intestinal wall, they can enter the bloodstream and travel to various internal organs. They end up in your liver, heart, lungs, brain, or other organs. If trophozoites invade an internal organ, they can cause:

  • Bulbs
  • Infections
  • Serious illness
  • Death

If a parasite attacks the lining of your intestine, it can cause amoebic diarrhea. Amoebic diarrhea is a more dangerous form of amebiasis, which is often accompanied by water, bloody stools, and severe abdominal cramps.

The liver is usually the destination of parasites. Symptoms of amoebic liver disease include fever and tenderness in the right-right part of the abdomen.

Causes of amebiasis

E. histolytic is a cell-cell protozoan that generally enters the human body when a person takes cysts through food or water. It enters the body through direct contact with fecal matter.

Cysts are a relatively inactive form of the parasite, which can be deposited in the feces or in the environment for many months. Microcysts can be present in soil, fertilizer, or water, which can become contaminated with infected feces. Food managers can transmit cysts when preparing or handling food. Transmission is also possible during anal sex, oral-anal sex, and irrigation of the colon.

When cysts enter the body, they remain in the digestive tract. They then release an active and aggressive form of a parasite called a trophozoite. Parasites reproduce in the digestive tract and migrate to the large intestine. There, they can burrow into the intestinal wall or colon. It can cause diarrhea, colitis, and tissue damage. An infected person can transmit the disease by releasing new cysts into the environment through infected feces.

Risk factors for amebiasis

Amoebiasis is common in underdeveloped tropical countries. It is common in the Indian subcontinent, parts of Central and South America, and parts of Africa. It is very rare in the United States.

There are risk factors:

  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Eating contaminated food
  • Affiliation with contaminated food handlers,
  • Anal sex practices,
  • Contaminated medical equipment, such as colon irrigation equipment
  • Malnutrition,
  • Corticosteroid receptors,
  • The pregnancy,
  • Very young patients and
  • Travelers to local areas like Southeast Asia or Central America

Diagnosis of amebiasis

The doctor may suspect amebiasis after asking about your recent health and travel history. Your doctor can test you for the presence of E. histolytica. You will need to give stool samples for several days to detect the presence of cysts. Your doctor may order lab tests to check liver function and determine if the amoeba has damaged your liver.

When the parasites spread outside the intestine, they no longer appear in the stool. Therefore, your doctor may order an ultrasound or CT scan to check for lesions on the liver. If lesions appear, your doctor will need to check for lumps in the liver. The acute course of tumor amebiasis in the liver.

Finally, you may need a colonoscopy to check for parasites in your large intestine (colon).

Treatment for amebiasis

There are several antibiotics available to treat amebiasis. Treatment must be prescribed by a doctor. If your E. histolytica infection does not make you sick, you will only receive one course of antibiotics. If your infection makes you sick, you will probably be treated with two antibiotics (first and another).

Drink only bottled or boiled water (1 minute) or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Do not drink fountain drinks or any drink with ice cubes. Another way to make your water safer is to filter it through a “1 micron absolute or less” filter and dissolve the iodine tablets in the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron” filters can be found at camping / outdoor supply stores.

Do not eat fresh fruits or vegetables without peeling yourself.

Do not eat or drink unpasteurized milk, cheese, or dairy products.

Do not eat or drink anything that street vendors sell.

Should I be concerned about the spread of the infection to the rest of my home?

Yes. However, the risk of infection is low if the infected person is treated with antibiotics and good personal hygiene is followed. This includes washing your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, and before handling food.

Surgical treatments are required or prescribed to treat amebiasis for the following reasons:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding (heavy or uncontrolled)
  • Perforated amoebic colitis
  • Toxic megacolon
  • Lack of response to metronidazole after four days of treatment
  • Amoebic liver tumors larger than 10 cm
  • Amoebic liver tumor indicating risk of pericardial rupture
  • Next rupture of pus (no medical response in about 3-5 days to expand tumor)
  • Percutaneous catheter drainage saves lives in patients with amoebic pericarditis

Are there home remedies for amebiasis?

There are several home remedies for amebiasis available on the Internet. They range from increased fluid intake to coconut water, buttermilk, black tea, and herbal teas to garlic, Indian lilac, oregano, and apple cider vinegar. If you think you have amebiasis, you should discuss your symptoms with your doctor before trying any self-medication remedies.

Complications of amebiasis

Although rare, there can be serious complications from the disease. Among them are:

  • Liver tumors (it is possible to develop these tumors without a normal diarrhea phase),
  • Lung tumors,
  • Brain tumors,
  • Ameboma (large local lesion of the intestine in response to an infected parasite),
  • Complete or necrotizing colitis,
  • Rational fecal fistula,
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Toxic megacolon,
  • Increased risk of cancer and
  • Death

Prevention of amebiasis

Proper hygiene is essential to prevent amebiasis. As a general rule, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom and before handling food.

If you go to areas where the infection is common, follow these rules when preparing and eating food:

  • Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating
  • Avoid eating fruits or vegetables
  • Limit yourself to bottled water and soft drinks
  • If you must drink water, boil it or treat it with iodine
  • Avoid ice cubes or fountain drinks
  • Avoid pasteurized milk, cheese, or other dairy products
  • Avoid food sold by street vendors

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