20 August, 2010

Had Some Little Friends Visit

If you've never lived in the tropics, you've probably never had occasion to meet amoebas - well, unless you've contracted Giardia or something similar. Anyway, I had 'em, and the doctor put me on a 10-day course of anti-amoeba medicine, sort of Drano for the gut, along with an anti-parasite medication.

There was virtually nothing symptom-wise. They were discovered in the course of my having a physical, which came about because of an outer ear infection. While being treated for that, I asked the doctor (Dr. Reyes at Bethesda Medical Center) if I could get a physical. Part of that was a battery of lab tests, which found the little buggers.

The only down-side to the experience, really, was that, because of the medication for the amoebas, I couldn't have a beer through the course of the meds and for two additional days beyond. That was to allow everything to get flushed out of my system.

How'd I catch amoebas, you might ask? Well, the easy answer is, eating unclean veggies, which might be the case, or it could be from eating just about anything that someone who already had amoebas came in contact with. Or, it could also be from drinking well water that was contaminated, or touching something - a hand rail perhaps, and then putting a finger in my mouth or touching a piece of food that I was going to eat.

In short, it could have been virtually anything. No biggy as long as you discover them early on, like around a year or so of the infection occuring. Medication is necessary to get them out of your system. They tend to stay in the intestines, only later burrowing into the lining of the intestine, and from there, moving to the liver, since that's the first place where blood from the intestines is cleaned.

Amoebas in the liver can eventually be a bad deal, causing abscesses and other problems. They can eventually move to the brain, causing you to become even squirrelier than you already are and eventually death. But, all that's pretty extreme. As long as you get tested periodically (annually is a good idea) and take action when they're discovered you're on good ground. Oh, and practicing good hygiene, washing hands, not sharing toothbrushes and the like.

So, the upshot is, that I'm now back having a beer with pool-time, which makes for an enjoyable afternoon. I do have to have another stool test completed in about a month just to be sure.

About the only way to look at it is it's one of the prices you have to pay (sooner or later) for living in paradise. I've noticed Gringos, in particular, feel they are exempt from acquiring amoebas or parasites. "I always wash my hands," or "I never eat salad in restaurants." Don't delude yourself. If you live here, sooner or later...

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