What Is Amoebiasis ?
Amoebiasis is an infection caused by a single celled parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. Also known as amoebic dysentery, this disease is contagious and spreads from an infected person to another. Amoebiasis is common in tropical countries where sanitation is poor and hygiene compromised. It occurs in India, Africa and parts of Central and South America.
What Are The Symptoms Of Amoebiasis ?
Only 10-20% of people infected with the parasite will develop symptoms. It takes about one week to 4 weeks for symptoms to appear. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps.
- Blood or mucous in stools.
Bacteria invade the walls of the intestine and enter the blood stream. Very rarely, they may travel to other internal organs like liver, lungs, heart or even brain. Invading internal organs may potentially cause:
- Severe infections.
- In rare cases, death.
What Are The Causes Of Amoebiasis ?
- The Entamoeba histolytica lives in the intestines of humans. They can be transmitted to others by way of faeces. The bacteria are passed out of the intestines through faeces. When a person drinks water or consumes food contaminated with the infected faeces, they are at risk of contracting amoebiasis.
- The bacteria enter the human body and settle in the digestive tract. Here they multiply and migrate to the large intestine. They burrow into the walls of the colon (large intestine) and damage the tissue causing colitis and bloody diarrhoea.
- Amoebiasis can also spread when an infected person does not wash hands properly after passing stools. The bacteria travel from his hands to anything that he touches, thereby posing a threat of infection to whoever comes in contact with the infected object.
- Amoebiasis can also be transmitted sexually, especially in men to men sex.
- This disease can also spread while irrigating the colon( where the colon is flushed with fluids to remove waste)
- People who are travelling to countries where this infection is rampant may get infected and carry this disease back to their countries.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Amoebiasis ?
- Drink only purified water.
- If you drink boiled water, do not store the boiled water for a long duration as it may get infected again.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with a disinfectant soap after passing stools to get rid of germs.
- Scrub and clean hands with soap and water before cooking and eating food.
- Take special care while making salads or assembling raw fruit platter.
- Store cooked food hygienically to avoid contamination.
- Bath rooms and toilets must be cleaned regularly to kill germs and prevent infection.
- Consume only pasteurized milk and other dairy products.
- If travelling to amoebiasis prone countries, take special care about the kind of water and food you consume. Always carry bottled water while travelling.
- Rest is very important to help the digestive system get better. Prop up your head on a pillow when you lie down. Do not lie down flat for more than 2 hours post meals.
- Using a heating pad on the abdomen will give relief from abdominal cramps.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Amoebiasis ?
- If you are suffering from amoebiasis, avoid handling food and do not cook for others. You may spread the infection.
- Avoid drinking water from public water booths, springs or fountains.
- Avoid eating road side food where hygiene is not maintained.
- Avoid adding ice chunks to juices and drinks as the ice may be made from contaminated water.
- Do not eat peeled vegetables or fruits from road side vendors.
- Do not share towels and other toiletries if any of the family members has been infected with the parasite.
- If you have diarrhoea, do not eat solid food for at least 24 hours.
What Are The Best Foods For Amoebiasis ?
- Drink plenty of fluids including water, juices and electrolytes. Diarrhoea causes dehydration which may be dangerous. Replenish the body with minerals and fluids by taking rehydrating solutions.
- Eat foods which are soft and easy on the stomach. Good options are cooked cereal, rice, noodles, crackers, toast, applesauce and bananas.
- Garlic is known for its anti parasitic properties. Chew on a garlic clove or use it in food to fight off the parasitic infection.
- Pineapple contains the digestive enzyme called bromelain, which helps to clear parasites from the digestive system.
- Fibre rich foods are regarded as best foods for this disease. Papaya extract, beetroot, psyllium husk, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds are some natural intestinal cleansers.
- Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will not only add much-needed fibre into the diet, it will also improve the immunity of the body. A strong immune system helps to get rid of unwanted bacteria and also speeds up the healing process. It’s a good idea to cook vegetables and fruits before consuming as raw food may worsen the infection.
- Yoghurt has probiotic qualities which will benefit the intestines and help them to heal faster.
What Are The Worst Foods For Amoebiasis ?
- Avoid caffeinated products, processed food and sugar, since they worsen the infection and slow down the healing process.
- Avoid consumption of alcohol.
- Avoid spicy food since you have abdominal pain and irritated intestines during this infection. Spicy food will further flare up the intestines.
- Fatty foods and meat are hard to digest. Hence, avoid them till the infection subsides.
- Avoid acidic foods like tomatoes, limes, and oranges as they may irritate the stomach and intestines.
What Are The Medicines For Amoebiasis ?
What Are The Tips To Manage Amoebiasis ?
Good hygiene and proper sanitation play an important role in preventing amoebiasis. Proper disposal of sewage, clean handling of water and food and keeping the surroundings clean will help to prevent the spread of amoebiasis.