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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Does anyone know anything about amebic dystentery?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (2387 points ) March 22nd, 2013

For over a month I’ve been sick with chronic diarrhea and fatigue after a trip to the Ecuadorian coast. Infrastructure isn’t great there and as a result I accidentally came in contact with contaminated water and/or food.

After two weeks of chronic illness (going to the toilet 20x or more a day and sometimes 10x + at night) I went to the ER and they determined I had a intestinal parasite. I was prescribed Cipro and Etron which seemed to work for a few days before my symptoms returned again just as bad as ever.

Now I’m undergoing further tests but my first stool culture determined I have no more parasites. I have two more to go before I can see the doctor again but I’m so scared they won’t be able to find out what’s wrong with me.

My boyfriend was doing some research and he believes I might have Amebic Dysentery which is a very sneaky infection common in tropical areas. Obviously we won’t know until we get a doctor’s diagnoses but I’m desperate to find out why I’ve been so sick!

Seriously, I’ve never been this sick for this long and it’s causing a lot of pain and fatigue. I can barely eat anything because it all makes me sick and I’m rapidly losing weight.

Has anyone ever had diarrhea for a month or more? How about amebic dysentery? Any tips to feel better? I’ve been eating bland foods, drinking (clean) water, peppermint tea and taking Imodium and nothing seems to help much. I’m still going between 5–29x a day. :(

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13 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

My oldest step-son picked up something similar in Mexico years ago. It turned out to be a parasite also but was, like your case, persistent and took some time to treat. But it was treatable.

Can you call the nurse and ask for some help with the symptoms, which do sound severe? Tell her what you’ve told us.

bookish1's avatar

I am sorry to hear that you are this ill. Amoebic dysentery certainly is serious. I had it as a child. I do not know much specifically about it, unfortunately. But it is indeed treatable.

How long will it take you to get a diagnosis from the doctor? If you can, call a nurse and ask for what steps you should be taking in the meantime, as @gailcalled said.

One of the most common ways to treat the symptoms of diarrhea is a diet of bananas, white rice, and toast. Also, yogurt helps. You should definitely avoid fiber, and try to drink as much tea and clean water as you can.

Best wishes to you, and do let us know what the doctor says.

gondwanalon's avatar

You can get amebic dysentery from drinking contaminated water anyplace on earth. There are several different pathogenic single celled protozoa (amebas if you will) that can cause the condition that you are experiencing. It sounds like the ED doctors suspect that you are infected with more than one species of pathogenic protozoa.

When you collect your stool specimens look for any bloody and or mucus areas and collect that. Those areas are most likely to have the offending protozoan beasts.

Good luck and good health!

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JLeslie's avatar

Did the ER actually identify something? Or, just gave you the antibiotics assuming it was a parasite or bacterial infection? I just mentioned on your other Q that it could be part of your mourning and not an infection.

cazzie's avatar

They used to warn us against something called giardia in New Zealand. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardia/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giardia
It was a very common infection to get if you went hiking or camping and didn’t watch what you were doing when you ate, drank, swam etc. For hospitals and doctors in areas who are not familiar with this type of infection, it can be very hard to diagnose because of the lack of physical evidence left by the parasite. If the hospital lacks lab equipment (Like these three mentioned and compared here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1257425) the only way is to have (I know this sounds super gross) several days of stool samples checked.

Cipro is for bacterial infections usually?, so they were covering their bases? . and what is etron? do you mean gransietron? Drugs for giardia infection aren’t often available in the US.

I hope this helps and that, by now, you are feeling better!

cazzie's avatar

Also, my husband has been treated for this on a few occasions with his horrible risky eating habits when he travels. (Goats brains fried on a food cart on the road to Mumbai anyone?) yuck. One of the worst cases he got was in Ecuador, actually. He had a seafood meal at the local ‘working man’s club’ and got horribly sick. The ships doctor had the medicine he needed right on hand, so he didn’t need to go to too much trouble.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie We hear of Giardia in the states too. I think Etron is either the same drug as, or at minimum the same class of drugs as Flagyl, which I believe would treat Giardia. But, it is a good suggestion. Researching Giardia and treatments would be worth while for the OP. I still think it’s anxiety related.

JLeslie's avatar

I take that back. I just googled in a PDR search engine and Entron doesn’t come up. Now, I am not sure what it is. But, I agree taking something like Flagyl is worth a try. If Entron is like that then I understand why the doctor prescribed it, if it isn’t, something in that class of drugs is worth a try. Maybe the OP can tell us the manufacturer of that drug so we can try to look it up.

I think Giardia would be found in a stool sample though. The cysts are seen under microscope. You don’t even have to wait for a culture to grow if I remember correctly.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie ‘cultures’ aren’t grown from amoebic infection smears like the tests they do for bacterial infections. If the hospital or clinic lack the equipment, stool samples, preferably collected over a few days, are filtered and examined for remains of the amoebas (cysts) or the trophozoites (baby amoebas) under a microscope. They usually don’t bother with this, though, to choose a treatment. They prescribe and look for improvement. Confirmation testing can be done later if required.

I’m not a doctor, and I am happy to stand corrected, but this is what I understand to be the case.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie That’s what I said. The cysts are seen under microscope. I only meantioned “culture” to inform the OP that there isn’t any waiting time for cultures to grow. It isn’t like a bacteria. She said she had a stool sample done, and I was pointing out I think Gardia would have been seen in the sample. So, I doubt it is Gardia, but things can be missed of course. Taking a drug like Flagyl that treats aneorobes and parasites is worth a try.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie I misunderstood what you meant when you wrote that.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie I can see how it could be misunderstood :).

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