What is cryptosporidiosis?
It is a disease caused in the intestine by a parasite, called cryptosporidium. Many people are exposed to this agent, but those with a healthy immune system usually get rid of the parasite without having any symptoms or getting sick. Your doctor may order a stool test to find out if you have this disease. There is another disease called cryptococcal meningitis, completely different from cryptosporidiosis.
What are the signs of cryptosporidiosis?
Cryptosporidiosis patients usually have watery diarrhea more than 4 times a day. Weight loss, nausea, vomiting, colic, stomach pain and fever are also common symptoms, which can develop slowly. If you have had diarrhea for a long time, it is very likely that you are losing important fluids, vitamins and minerals necessary for life. If you have chronic diarrhea or any of the other symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.
Cryptosporidiosis be prevented?
Cryptosporidiosis is very contagious, making it difficult to avoid contact with the germ. The best way to avoid this disease is to always be clean, wash your hands frequently (especially after intercourse and after going to the bathroom) and avoid the presence of feces in your hands and mouth. Cryptosporidiosis can be contracted from the water you drink, so it is advisable to take filtered water or boil it before drinking.
Is it possible to treat cryptosporidiosis?There is no drug that kills the germ completely, but there are some that help control diarrhea. The medication most commonly used in cases of cryptosporidiosis is spiramycin and paramomycin. Azithromycin can also be useful. An experimental drug currently tested against cryptosporidiosis is letrazuril. Sometimes, the symptoms of cryptosporidiosis can subside without any medication. It is not known exactly why this happens; it may be related to improvements in the immune system, due to antiretroviral drugs, such as AZT, or other unknown causes. (Editor's note: Sad were those times in the 90s…) Some people have been shown to be able to control diarrhea through changes in diet. Individuals with cryptosporidiosis often avoid dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream), foods and drinks that contain caffeine (coffee, chocolate, tea, soft drinks) and fatty foods. Most of the time, drugs sold in pharmacies against diarrhea are not able to control this type of diarrhea, and may even worsen it. Drugs against diarrhea accessible by prescription are diphenoxylate hydrochloride plus atropine and loperamide hydrochloride.
What is microsporidiosis?
It is also a disease caused by a parasite in people with HIV. It is difficult for your doctor to find out whether you have this disease or not. This usually requires that he perform a test called a biopsy, in which a small sample of the intestinal wall is removed and examined.
What are the signs of microsporidiosis?
People with microsporidiosis can have severe diarrhea, as in the case of cryptosporidiosis. If your eyes are itchy all the time or sensitive to light, it may be a sign of microsporidiosis in your eyes. Microsporidiosis can also infect the liver, kidneys, muscles and brain.
Microsporidiosis be prevented?
It is not known for sure how people get microsporidiosis. Therefore, it is important to take precautions such as washing and cooking food well, drinking clean water and using condoms during sexual intercourse.
Is there any way to treat microsporidiosis?
As with cryptosporidiosis, there is no proven treatment for microsporidiosis, other than drugs to reduce diarrhea. Albendazole is an experimental drug available for use in clinical research at New York University and is available in Brazil. Albendazole is effective in at least half of the patients. Other drugs in use against microsporidiosis are paramomycin, metronidazole and itraconazole (against microsporidiosis in the eyes).What are the side effects of treatments against cryptosporidiosis and microsporidiosis?
- Paramomycin: nausea, reversible kidney damage, possible hearing loss.
- azithromycin:nausea, possible hearing loss (very rare).
- itraconazole:nausea, headache, stomach pain. Provided free in Brazil.
- Metronidazole: stomach pain, fever, nausea. Provided free in Brazil.
- albendazole:liver toxicity, neutropenia. Provided free in Brazil.
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