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Amoebiasis - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment


Amoebiasis is an infection of small intestine, which is caused by an protozoan called Entamoeba histolytica. It is simply called - Amoebic dysentery. This is usually contracted by ingesting water or food contaminated by amoebic cysts. Amoebic abscesses may form in the liver , lungs , and brain and elsewhere in the body.

Amoebae are parasites that can be very easily found in contaminated food or drink. They enter the body through the mouth when the contaminated food or drink is swallowed. The amoebae are then able to move through the digestive system and take up residence in the intestine and cause infections like amoebiasis.

What is Amoebiasis and Amoeba?

There are several different species of amoeba, but the most dangerous, such as Entamoeba histolytica, live predominantly in tropical areas. People living in rural areas or persons traveling in such areas are at highest risk of developing this disease, which occurs when something infected with the parasite is eaten or swallowed.

There are mainly two types of amoebiasis:-

  • Intestinal Amoebiasis:- It is frequently asymptomatic and varies from fulminant dysentery with fever, chills, and bloody or mucoid diarrhea to mild abdominal discomfort with diarrhea containing blood or mucus alternating with periods of constipation or remission.
  • Extraintestinal Amoebiasis:- It occurs when the parasite invades other organs such as liver, lung, brain or skin. The incubation period varies from a few days to several months or years (commonly 2-4 weeks).

Causes of Amoebiasis:

The main cause of amoebiasis is- single cell parasite called entamoeba histolytica.  The parasite burrows into the wall of the intestine to cause small abscesses and ulcers . From there they enter the veins of the intestine and are carried to the liver .

Even though there is constant spread of infection, (within a family) some people are resistant to amoebiasis. Even if infected, they only act as a carrier to the disease and do not develop themselves. This shows that the ultimate cause of suffering is hidden than the exposed causative factor i.e. amoeba.

Some Possible Causes of Amoebiasis includes:-

  • Eating or Drinking contaminated water or food is one of the primary cause of amoebiasis.
  • Touching, and bringing to your mouth, cysts (eggs) picked up from surfaces that are contaminated with entamoeba histolytica.
  • Eating a food on which mosquito had sat, after sitting on the stool of a person infected with entamoeba histolytica, may lead to amoebiasis.
  • Eating vegetables and fruits which have been contaminated by the harmful bacteria, may cause amoebiasis.
  • Eating Non-Veg foods (meat and intestines of animals - goat, pig, beef, etc.), may lead to the condition of amoebiasis.
  • Even vegetables grown in soil contaminated by faeces can transmit the disease.
  • As, amoebiasis is a highly contagious disease - so, it may be transmitted from one person to other through direct contact.
  • Unhygienic Conditions and Poor Sanitation areas are more susceptible to amoebiasis.
  • Amoebic dysentery can also be spread by anal sex or directly from person to person contact.

Symptoms for Amoebiasis:

The symptoms are in two forms:

1. By burrowing the intestines and making ulcers, which bleed and cause anaemia or other diseases due to added infection
2. Absorbing the food from the host or letting out toxic substances in the intestines

Some important symptoms of amoebiasis includes:-

  • Passing of more number of stools is one of the main symptom in amoebiasis. In this case, patient may pass about 10-12 stools during an acute episode. The presence of mucus is common in stools.
  • Stools can sometimes also be accompanied with blood
  • Usually symptoms start with diarrhea and pain in right hypochondrium.
  • Jaundice.
  • The other most common symptom is colic or pain in abdomen.
  • It could be associated with a low-grade fever too.
  • Sometimes allergic reactions can occur throughout the body, due to release of toxic substances or dead parasites inside the intestines.
  • Loss of Weight and Stamina is encountered with person suffering from amoebiasis.
  • Around one in ten people who are infected with amoebiasis become ill from the disease.
  • Tenesmus, may occur during amoebiasis.
  • Foul smelling stools.
  • Loss of Appetite.
  • There will be pain over the liver, when pressure is applied just under the ribs on the right side.
  • Stomach Cramps.
  • Amoebic liver abscesses can also present as pyrexia of unknown origin. The abscess can sometimes rupture into the pleural, peritoneal or pericardial cavities.
  • You will feel weakness or tiredness, if you are suffering from amoebiasis.
  • Pain in the right shoulder could occur in chronic condition.
  • Nausea.

Treatment for Amoebiasis:

Metronidazole:- Metronidazole Amoebic dysentery is very effective for the treatment of amoebiasis. Complications, such as perforation of the intestinal wall or the presence of abscesses within the body's organs, require a special hospital treatment.

If you have bloody diarrhea, you can treat yourself with metronidazole, eg two 400mg tablets, three times a day for five days. This is the dose for adults who are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding.

Avoid Alcohol: - It is very important to avoid drinking alcohol during the treatment process of amoebiasis, otherwise you will not be able to get rid of disease easily. Try not to drink alcohol at all.

Home Remedies for Amoebiasis:

Some of the Common Home Remedies for Amoebiasis includes:-

  • Apricot:- The juice of apricot leaves should be extracted and applied over the infected area. It has beneficial results in the treatment of amoebiasis.
  • Neem:- Make a leaf paste with dried neem leaves and an equal quantity of turmeric powder mixed with mustard oil. This should be applied on the body and left for an hour or so. Then the person should bath.
  • Peepul:- The dried bark of a peepul tree can be powdered fine, strained through a fine sieve and used as a dusting powder on lesions of amoebiasis.
  • Drumstick:- Extract the juice from 400 - 500 gm of drumstick leaves. Mix with an equal amount of sesame seed oil, and boil till the water dries up. Cool and store. Apply daily over the infected parts. Both have strong anti-microbial properties.
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