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Giardiasis

Closeup of woman washing hands in sink.
Wash your hands often to help prevent Giardia infection.
Giardiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the parasite Giardia. You may become infected by ingesting contaminated food or water. Exposure to the stool of someone who`s infected can also cause infection.

When to seek medical attention

Get medical help for severe symptoms that include:

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach bloating or fullness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Unplanned weight loss

  • Blood in your stool

  • Dehydration

When to go to the emergency room

Go to the emergency room if you have: 

  • Uncontrolled vomiting

  • Severe belly pain

What to expect at the healthcare provider's office

You will be examined and will likely have a stool specimen examined in a lab. This checks a sample of your stool for the parasite that causes the disease. If giardiasis is suspected or confirmed, you may be prescribed medicine that you take for 5 to 7 days. In many cases, this clears the infection.

Preventing giardiasis

Take these steps to help prevent infection with Giardia:

  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating.

  • Wash your hands each time you change a child's diaper.

  • Avoid drinking from rivers and streams, and use a water treatment kit when camping. 

  • Wash or peel raw produce before using.

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.