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A day in the life of a patient suffering from Echinococcosis

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I suffer from a peculiar infection, which has affected my liver. It is called Echinococcosis. I am suffering from this infection for almost 4 months and there is no sign of any improvement. Life has changed a lot since I was detected with this infection. It’s difficult to live your life with ease when an infection has affected a major organ like the liver. Here’s how my days have been since this infection came to affect me.

Waking up in the morning

Echinococcosis is a parasitic infection caused due to a tapeworm of the genus Echinococcus (the exact name is Echinococcus granulosus). This was the first thing I learned about Echinococcosis when the doctor told me I was suffering from it. There are several other facts about this disease that came to light after this diagnosis. One of them is it spreads from one person to another through the consumption of contaminated foods and water. That is why; I have started avoiding drinking water in the morning. I used to drink at least 4 glasses of water the first thing in the morning after getting up. However, I was a bit careless and drank the water without boiling it. This could be the reason why Echinococcus granulosus gained entry into my body. Though I have realized the importance of drinking clean water, at present, I cannot drink it in the morning because of severe weakness. I can hardly perform my routine task. So, taking efforts to boil the water in the morning hours is too difficult for me.

Starting the day

Echinococcosis has affected my lungs and eyes as well along with the liver. I also experience difficulty in breathing and cough, even I take my treatment with regularity. I have lost a few pounds probably due to the improperly functioning liver. Due to these problems, my day begins with a feeling of weakness. Even the 8 hours rest at night does not help me feel refreshed. I find it difficult to perform daily tests and take almost 2 hours to complete them.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

The doctor has advised me to stick to a bland diet. I eat dry foods like toast, wheat bread, or biscuits for breakfast. I avoid processed and fatty foods as my digestion has become very weak. I try to drink as much as water during daytime to help with digestion. But, I make sure the water, as well as the food, I consume is completely hygienic.

Going to work and the treatment

Severe breathlessness, continuous pain in the right, upper side of my abdomen, and weakness have forced me to take a leave from my work. Currently, I am being treated with antiparasitic drugs, which are able to reduce the symphoms of this disease. I also had to undergo surgery to drain out the pus formed in my liver due to the infection. I have to undergo ultrasound imaging testing on a regular basis to monitor the formation and growth of cysts in my liver. The further course of treatment and the need for surgery are decided by the doctor based on the reports of the ultrasound imaging.

Prevention of complications

This infection has already affected my liver, digestive system, lungs, and the eyes. I have to take care to avoid any complications related to these organs. I am taking the anti-parasitic medications regularly. This is of high importance as these drugs can help to limit the growth of parasites and promote their expulsion from the body. The doctor told me the symptoms would continue to persist till the parasites are not eliminated completely. Additionally, I am also taking proper care of my diet and hygiene. I eat a balanced diet prescribed by a dietician. It contains all the food groups to make sure my body is not deficient in any nutrient. I am also eating the foods high in proteins. This should help me recover faster from the infection.

What are the daily limitations and what are the fears?

Echinococcosis has put brakes on my fast-paced life. I suffer from loose motions, and severe abdominal pain. I have lost my appetite and suffer from weakness. I cannot perform my routine tasks with ease. I have to take slow steps and be careful of what I do, eat, or drink. The recovery has been very slow due to the involvement of multiple organs. I fear this infection may spread further and affect my heart, brain, and other vital organs. If that happens, it may result in serious, life-threatening complications. I am doing everything possible to recover faster.

How does the future look like when you're infected with Echinococcus granulosus?

If all goes well, I should be able to resume my work and live a normal life within 5 to 6 months. Each time, I go for laboratory tests or ultrasound scanning, I pray to hear something positive from the doctor. Even the thought that this infection might have spread to other organs or invaded deeper into my liver or lungs makes me nervous.

What are the risk factors?

The risk of Echinococcosis can be reduced by following the measures recommended by the public health authorities. Controlling the population of stray dogs, restricting the home slaughter of livestock, and avoiding the consumption of contaminated food and water are some precautionary measures that could have helped me prevent this infection. This information came too late for me, as I have already contracted the infection. But, I hope at least others take cues from what has happened with me and do what’s needed to prevent this infection.

The causes and evolution of Echinococcosis

The worst part about the malady caysed by Echinococcus granulosus is it can affect multiple organs of the body. It can form one or more cysts in the liver, and lungs. The infection may spread to the bones, spleen, kidneys, muscles, nervous system, and the eyes. I am not sure when exactly I might have contracted this infection because it usually has an asymptomatic incubation period that can last for several years. The doctor told me the symptoms begin to be evident only after the hydatid cysts have grown large enough to cause considerable damage to the organs. But, what’s scarier about Echinococcosis is it can progress slowly over a few years and lead to fatal complications.

What are the psychological effects when you have Echinococcosis?

So far, this infection is limited to a few organs in my body and responding well to the treatment. However, a slight negligence on my part regarding medications, diagnostic procedures, and hygienic precautions would be enough to trigger the development of complications. I have to be very cautious while tracking the progress of this disease. This is already causing a lot of mental stress and anxiety for me.

Topics: echinococcosis

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Written by Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy is a doctor having a clinical experience of more than 15 years. She has an expertise in treating acute and chronic diseases like obesity, IBS, asthma, arthritis, Autism, ADHD, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, allergies, cancer, infections, and skin diseases. She believes in treating the patients in a holistic manner. She aims at educating the patients about the illness and providing tips related to their lifestyle and diet to ensure a long-term relief from the disease and preventing its recurrence.