Giardiasis is a condition caused by the Giardia parasite. It’s a single-celled organism that lives in the intestines. This condition is the second most common parasitic infection in the United States.

You can contract Giardia by ingesting it orally. A person with Giardiasis can spread it easily if they don’t practice good hygiene, namely proper hand washing after using the restroom. Fecal matter that is contaminated is the number one way to spread the parasite. It’s also possible to contract Giardia by drinking contaminated water.

Certain groups of people are more likely to contract Giardia than others. People who are in a group-care environment like a nursing home or daycare facility are at a higher risk that others. Children lack the hygiene that it takes to thoroughly cleanse their hands after each bowel movement and can spread the parasite if they are infected. In these types of environments, it’s not uncommon for mass outbreaks to occur.

Giardia also infects animals like otters, sheep, and cattle. For this reason, campers and hikers may also be at more risk of contracting the parasite, especially if they drink from a stream or lake that contaminated animals are in contact with. It’s much safer to drink only your own bottled water and to be extra careful not to swallow fresh water when swimming.

The best way to prevent contracting and spreading Giardia is to always practice good hand washing skills. Use a foaming soap after each trip to the bathroom. Rub your hands together briskly for thirty seconds, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Avoid touching public restroom surfaces with your bare hand. Use a paper towel to turn on faucets and open doors.

Symptoms that are known to be associated with Giardiasis typically involve the gastrointestinal tract. Excessive gas, stomach pain and cramps, diarrhea, grease-like bowel movements, nausea, vomiting, and bloating or distended stomach. Sometimes a person with Giardiasis will have a low fever and headaches.

In severe cases, Giardiasis can lead to dehydration, extreme weight loss, and vitamin deficiencies. It’s important to address the problem right away if you suspect you have the Giardia parasite. A parasite cleanse can rid your body of the protozoa and you will begin to experience immediate relief from your symptoms.