Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis

Amebiasis is an infection of the large intestine and sometimes the liver, caused by a parasite. It is common in subtropical locations, especially in crowded or unsanitary living conditions. The common sources of the infection are contaminated food, polluted water, or faulty plumbing. It is spread by flies or other insects and by direct contact with hands or food contaminated with feces. It is curable with treatment but may last 3 weeks. In some cases there may be no symptoms, but you can still be a carrier of the disease.

Living With Your Diagnosis
The most common symptom is diarrhea. It may be foul smelling and may be streaked with mucus or blood. Gas and abdominal cramping along with fever are common. If the liver is involved, there may be tenderness in the upper right side of the abdomen and yellowing of the skin.

Medications to kill the parasite will be prescribed by your doctor. You must take them as directed. Side effects of the medication may include nausea, headache, dry mouth or a metallic taste, and darkening of the urine. Alcohol must not be consumed while taking these medications. Bed rest during the acute stage is needed. Normal activities should be resumed gradually after the fever is gone and the diarrhea improves. Fluids must be increased to prevent dehydration. If solid foods are not tolerated, a liquid diet of broths, juices, and ice cream can be taken until the appetite improves, with gradual progression to a normal diet.

The DOs

• Take the medication as prescribed.
• Rest in bed until the fever subsides and the diarrhea decreases.
• Increase fluids to prevent dehydration.
• Wash hands frequently, always before eating.
• Drink bottled water if traveling in developing countries.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t drink alcohol when taking the medication prescribed for this disease.
• Don’t drink water or use ice if in a country where the water may be contaminated.
• Don’t eat raw vegetables, unpeeled fruit, raw fish, or shellfish in questionable areas.

When to Call Your Doctor
• You experience severe abdominal cramping for longer than 24 hours.
• Diarrhea increases or there is an increase in blood in the stools.
• Pain occurs in the right upper side of the abdomen.
• Yellowing of the skin occurs.
• A rash develops.
• Vomiting starts.
• You cannot tolerate fluids or the medications prescribed.

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