You are having GI type symptoms of diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, and cramping. It may be that the symptoms are mild or severe and last from 2 to 6 weeks. You slowly notice your symptoms improve. The symptoms may return periodically or they may not. At first, the thought might be that, you caught a bug and it is now gone. This may be true, however, it may not be gone; it may be that your body is not openly trying to fight it off any longer and that the Giardia infection is alive and thriving throughout you’re small intestine creating inflammation leading to destruction of the cells along the small intestinal wall that provide for nutrient absorption and gut immunity. If left untreated this parasite may eventually lead to a condition referred to as ‘leaky gut’, allowing indigested material to cross the gut barrier and infiltrate the body systems. I will use the Giardia infection as an example for this post however; other intestinal parasites can cause the same problems. Although the severity, type, and duration of symptoms may vary, the long lasting effects can be disastrous for your health if left untreated.
Giardia is a single cell protozoan with a very tough protective cyst form that can be resistant to even chlorine. While it is true that the body can rid itself of this and other intestinal parasites, the ongoing assault of chemical, physical, and emotional stress of modern living on our bodies make this less likely. Giardia can live in the small intestine for many months or years wreaking havoc on the body.
If left alone the presence of parasites like this can lead to a myriad of seemingly unrelated symptoms such as flu like symptoms, chronic fatigue, muscle aches, anemia, lactose intolerance, colonic dumping leading to yeast overgrowth, and a host of other problems. What can be surprising is that sometimes there are no GI symptoms present at all. People with long term problems that have been unsuccessfully treated by previous doctors can often be helped by eliminating the root cause of the problem such as a GI infection, including Giardia.
I have had several patients who have had symptoms improve with the discovery and treatment of parasites like this one. As an example, I obtained permission from a patient to report of his battle with this parasite.
The patient complained of whole body aches and fatigue. He reported feeling as though he had a “flu all the time” for years. Often times he would miss quality time with this family as a result of the severity of his complaints. Among other things, I had him run a 401H, a test that detects parasites such as Giardia, with Biohealth Labs. It came back positive. I sent him to a medical doctor for allopathic care. Two months following antibiotic treatment specific for Giardia, the body aches and flu like symptoms disappeared. We retested in four months and the parasite was gone. He had his life back!
Obviously prevention is the best option. The CDC’s recommendations for prevention of Giardia can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardia/prevent.html.
The CDC suggests such antibiotics as metronidazole, tinidazole, and nitazoxanide can be used to treat a Giardia infection. The CDC indicates paromomycin, quinacrine, and furazolidone can also be used as alternatives.
If you think you have this infection it is necessary you see your health care practitioner for a full evaluation which should include a stool test. It is important that you seek a provider that fully understands this infection and other parasitic infections and the ramifications if it is left undiagnosed.
I would suggest that if a parasite is found it is very important to retest in about 6 months. As the gut heals, hiding spots for parasites previously undetected may open up. These bugs should be diagnosed and treated as well. Also, remember that as the gut heals symptoms may worsen off and on for about six months as the hiding spots that were previously closed off from the rest of the gut, open up and release their contents.
It is important that the stool test and associated lab are sensitive to the importance of proper diagnosis. For parasite lab testing, I have helped many patients using the 401H test with Biohealth Labs. Here is the link that describes the 401H: http://biohealthlab.com/test-menu/parasites-and-pathogens/gi-pathogen-screens-401-401h/. I found the short video by Dr. Kalish helpful.
Note: I do not receive compensation for promoting Biohealth Labs. I have had patient’s with false negatives with other labs only to retest using the 401H to find the first lab had missed the problem.
In addition, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned in this article it is important that you consult your health care provider for further evaluation as parasites and other serious conditions may be present.
I hope this information is helpful and I would welcome any comments.
Yours in Health,
Sean Ripp, D.C.