Amoebic colitis is a gastrointestinal disease caused by a protozoan parasite Entamoeba Histolitica. Colitis is a general term used for an inflammation in the lining of large intestine. When it is caused by amoeba E. Histolitica, it is referred as amoebic colitis.
The disease in medical parlance is also known as amoebiasis. Often the disease runs a chronic course with periodic acute exacerbations. The disease is prevalent worldwide, but is more common in warm climates and unhygienic conditions.
The disease runs a mild course with main symptoms such as abdominal cramps and sticky diarrhea.However, heavy infection can cause amoebic dysentery with symptoms of abdominal pain, blood and mucus in stool, and fever. Only 10% of infected individuals develop disease, while in rest the amoeba lives a latent life excreting cysts in stool. These patients act as carrier of the disease.
Causes Of Amoebic Colitis
The causative organism is Entamoeba Histolitica; it is a parasite belonging to protozoan family. E. Histolitica is single cell organism primarily affecting humans. The disease is prevalent all over the world, but more common in underdeveloped countries, having poor sanitation facilities.
Infection is acquired by ingesting food and water contaminated with cysts of E.Histolitica passed in stool. Food prepared or served by a person who has not washed his hands after defecation can also become a source of transmission.
Amoebic colitis can affect adults as well as children. One person infected in a family can easily spread infection to other family members if hygiene and sanitation facilities are poor.
Amoebic Colitis Symptoms
The clinical spectrum of amebic colitis is variable. The symptoms develop within 2 to 6 weeks after the ingestion of amebic cysts. Diarrhea and constipation may alternate. The stools usually contain little amount of sticky foul smelling fecal matter. However, sometimes it may be voluminous accompanied with colicky pain in abdomen and tenderness.
In small number of patients there is typical amoebic dysentery with loose motion mixed with blood and mucus. There may be other associated constitutional symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, pain in legs etc.
In chronic amoebic colitis, patient is usually healthy with occasional bouts of diarrhea with blood and mucus streaked stools.
Complications Of Amebic Colitis
In majority of patients amoebic colitis is in mild to moderate in origin. However, hepatic amoebiasis is a common complication if the disease is more virulent. The parasite can pass on from the intestinal wall into the blood stream and to the liver. Once in the liver it can cause amebic liver abscess. The abscess contains pus and other dead liver cells.
It is characterized by right upper abdominal pain, with tenderness in lower ribs when palpated. Poor general health, fatigue and mild fever are usual with amoebic liver abscess. The liver is enlarged and occasional jaundice is other manifestation of amoebic liver abscess. Nausea may be present but vomiting is unusual. Most patients with amebic liver abscess may have recent or past history of amoebic dysentery.
In rare instances the abscess can burst and spread into the chest cavity.
Complications limited to intestine may be intestinal perforation, bloating of large intestine, severe intestinal hemorrhage and stricture formation.
Diet For Amoebic Colitis
Aside from the medications diet plays an important role during recovery from amebic colitis. Consumption of food that can be easily digested is essential. Besides, it should also provide sufficient nutritive value and calories.
- Foods that are low in fiber are easy to digest. They are best during when the patient is recovering from the intestinal disease. Here are some of the foods that may be useful such as bananas, applesauce, white rice, yogurt, herbal tea etc. They can be included in the beginning as they are soothing for the intestine. After few days patient can include cereal bread, refined pasta, boiled potatoes, tomato soup, vegetable and fruit juices, fish, eggs, tofu etc.
- Some foods are difficult to digest when the intestinal walls are inflamed. Avoid eating meat, beans, raw vegetables, cauliflower, cabbage, spicy and oily food, some of which may cause bloating and gases in the stomach.
- Drink fluids and water in sufficient amount. It helps to replenish lost salts and body fluids in diarrhea.
- Eat small quantity of food frequently. Avoid eating large meals.