Parasitic infection of the intestines is known as Amebiasis. It is caused by entamoeba histolytica and commonly is seen in tropical regions of the world where there is poor sanitation resulting in exposure of food and water to fecal contamination. Treatment for Amebiasis comprises of various antibiotics.
Risk Factors for Amebiasis
Anyone can suffer from amebiasis; however, people living in tropical countries where there is underdeveloped sanitation, are more prone to it. Amebiasis is commonly seen in Central America, Mexico, some regions of South America, Egypt, South Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It is comparatively rare in the United States.
The following individuals are at an increased risk for amebiasis:
- Immigrants who are from tropical countries with poor sanitary conditions.
- Individuals who have traveled to tropical countries, which have underdeveloped sanitation are at increased risk of suffering amebiasis.
- Individuals living in places which have poor sanitary conditions.
- Homosexual men who have sex with other men are also at higher risk for getting Amebiasis.
- Individuals who have compromised immune system along with other health problems.
Causes of Amebiasis
- Amebiasis can be caused by consuming food or water which has come in contact with the stool of a person who has been infected with E. histolytica.
- Consuming something which has been contaminated with E. histolytica can also cause Amebiasis.
- Touching and consuming eggs or cysts, which are present on the surfaces contaminated with E. histolytica.
- Amebiasis is contagious. Chances of the infection spreading from person to person is high if hygiene is poor and living conditions are unclean.
- Transmission of amebiasis can happen by taking fecal contaminated food or water or it can also spread from person to person contact like unsafe sexual practices or when changing diapers of baby infected with amebiasis.
Signs & Symptoms of Amebiasis
Symptoms of Amebiasis can be mild and comprise of:
- Patient suffering from Amebaisis experiences symptoms about one to four weeks after the eggs or the cysts have been ingested.
- Patient suffering from Amebaisis experiences symptoms of stomach pain.
- Stomach cramping is also one of the common symptoms of Amebiasis.
- Amebic dysentery is a severe type of Amebiasis where the patient has fever, severe stomach pain, watery and bloody stools.
- Patient suffering from Amebiasis will have symptoms of loose stools.
- In rare cases, the parasite (E. histolytica) can enter the blood stream from where it can pass into liver, brain, lungs and causes formation of abscess.
- Fever and tenderness in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen are common symptoms of amebic liver disease.
Investigations to Diagnose Amebiasis
- Stool samples are taken and analyzed for a confirmed diagnosis of Amebiasis.
- As the parasite (E. histolytica) is not always found in a single stool sample, the patient may have to submit many stool samples from various days for a confirmatory diagnoses of Amebiasis.
- Blood test is also done to find out if the parasite has invaded the intestinal wall or other organs of the body.
- CT scan or an ultrasound is also done to look for lesions on the liver. If a lesion is seen, then a needle aspiration is done to find if there is abscess formation or not as liver abscesses are a cause for concern.
- Diagnosing amebiasis can be quite difficult, as there are other parasites and cells which closely resemble E. histolytica microscopically. So, there can be some cases where the patient is told that they are infected with E. histolytica when in actuality they are not.
- Entamoeba dispar is another amoeba, which is far common than E. histolytica, also looks very similar to E. histolytica when seen under a microscope. However, the people suffering from infection with E. dispar do not get sick and therefore, do not need treatment. So, in cases where the patient has been told that he/she suffers from infection of E. histolytica, but is feeling fine with no symptoms is highly likely that the patient might be infected with E. dispar instead.
Treatment for Amebiasis
- There are different types of antibiotics given for treating amebiasis. Nitroimidazole drugs like metronidazole and tinidazole are quite effective in killing amoebas in the blood and in the wall of the intestine.
- In case the patient suffering from Amebaisis is not feeling sick, then only one antibiotic is prescribed.
- Two antibiotics are given if the infection has made the patient sick.
- For treating mild cases of Amebiasis, a ten day course of oral metronidazole is given.
- If there is invasion of the intestinal tissues or if the parasite has entered the blood stream, then the treatment is also addressed to the damage occurring in the infected organs.
- Surgery for Amebiasis may be required if there is any perforation of the colon or peritoneal tissues.
Home Remedies for Amebiasis
Margosa Leaves can be used where equal parts of turmeric powder and dried margosa leaves are mixed in a few drops of mustard oil. This paste is then applied to the body and allowed to remain for one hour. Patient should then bathe with lukewarm water. Margosa leaves have antibiotic properties, which help in relieving inflammation and is a good home remedy for Amebiasis.
Treating Amebisis Naturally with Sacred Fig or Peepal Tree Bark
Sacred Fig or Peepal Tree Bark can be used as a home remedy in cases where amebiasis has spread to the skin. The bark should be peeled and washed, then dried in shade. This is then ground into fine powder, which should be then strained and sprinkled on the skin lesions.
Drumsticks are also useful home remedy for treating Amebiasis naturally. The juice of around 450 grams of drumstick leaves should be extracted to which an equal quantity of oil of sesame seed should be added and heated until the water evaporates. The mixture should be allowed to cool then stored in a clean container. Patient should drink this mixture for around two to three weeks. The leaves of drumsticks contain enzymes which help in killing the parasite of Amebiasis.
Bael Tree Fruit
Bael tree fruit contains anti-microbial properties and can be an effective home remedy for Amebiasis. The acids present in the fruit help in killing the parasite. Raw bael fruits are more efficient, as their acid content is higher. Take a raw or unripe bael fruit and roast it over an open fire. Extract the pulp of the fruit and mix some sugar to sweeten it. Honey can also be used instead of sugar. This mixture should be eaten for twice every day for some weeks till the symptoms start to recede.
Guava leaves also have a high acidic content, which helps in curbing Amebiasis naturally at home. Wash about five guava leaves and dry them under the shade. Next grind then into paste using a small amount of water. Consume this mixture about two or three times in a day.
Apricot Leaves- An Effective Home Remedy for Amebiasis
Apricot leaves contain anti-toxic components which help in fighting parasitic infections making it a useful home remedy to treat Amebiasis. The leaves should be washed thoroughly and their juice should be extracted. This mixture should be applied to the regions which are affected by the infection. Application of this mixture should be done about once daily before going to bed.
Black tea also has anti-toxic and anti-parasitic properties. Daily drinking of black tea without sugar helps in eliminating abdominal parasites and can be a useful home remedy to treat Amebiasis.
Papaya seeds also are anti-parasitic in nature and can be an effective home remedy to help control the spread of the organisms, which cause Amebiasis. Two tablespoons of papaya seeds should be consumed every week to effectively treat Amebiasis at home naturally.
Prognosis of Amebiasis
The prognosis of Amebiasis is good, as it usually responds well to treatment and resolves within two weeks. If there is invasion of parasite into the internal organs and tissues, then also the prognosis is good, as long as proper medical treatment is started. If Amebiasis is left untreated, then it can be fatal.
Prevention of Amebiasis
- Proper sanitation is the main key to prevent getting infected with Amebiasis.
- One of the best ways to prevent getting infected with Amebiasis is to always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the washroom and before touching any food.
- Always thoroughly wash any vegetables and fruits before consuming them.
- Try not to eat those fruits or vegetables which have been washed and peeled by others.
- Drink bottled water or boiled water when outside.
- Avoid having fountain drinks or ice cubes.
- Avoid consuming street food sold by street vendors.
- Avoid consuming cheese, milk and other unpasteurized dairy products.