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A day in the life of a patient suffering from Schistosomiasis

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I am sick! In fact, I am sick of coughing, bearing with abdominal pain, and taking tablets for all these symptoms. But, I can’t do much about it. I am suffering from an infection called Schistosomiasis because of which I am passing through a very difficult phase in my life. This infection is caused by a parasyte and has changed my routine life. I feel as if all of my activities and desires are being controlled by this disease. Here’s how my days have changed due to Schistosomiasis.

Waking up in the morning

For me, the time of the day hardly matters because I barely get a sound sleep of 2 hours at night. I spend the days and nights coughing. I feel severe pain all over my body as if each and every muscle in my body is throbbing, even I take my treatment regularly. I find too tired at all the times of the day. I do not even feel like getting up from my bed in the morning. I just want to try to get at least an hour’s sleep.

Starting the day

I get up with great difficulty. I have become very weak and feverish. I also feel pain in my chest probably due to the repeated bouts of coughing. I am sufferings from these symptoms for several years. I was diagnosed with Schistosomiasis about 2 years back. The doctor told me that this infection is caused due to the flatworms called schistosomes.

The patients with this infection usually recover within a few months. But, in some cases, it leads to the symptoms that last for several years causing chronic Schistosomiasis. I am one of those unfortunate individuals who has suffered chronic Schistosomiasis. My day begins with the disturbing symptoms like abdominal pain, blood in the stools, severe cough, skin rashes, and headache.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

I have realized that the infection I am suffering from is the result of my own careless habits. I never took seriously the advice of my mother or what I had learned in my school about hygienic precautions.
The parasites which cause Schistosomiasis can enter the body through the skin while waddling the feet in the infected water.

If I had taken proper precautions and avoided getting into the pools or a beach at new places where the infection is prevalent, I would have probably been spared of the ordeal I am facing now.

Though I cannot change what has already happened, I have decided to make sure I don’t suffer from such infective conditions in the future. I eat a healthy and hygienic foods. The doctor has asked me to pay special attention to my diet. He advised me to include fresh fruits, whole grains, and vegetables in the meals to support better health and ensure faster recovery.

Going to work and taking medications

I had to change my working hours due to Schistosomiasis. Due to the lack of proper sleep, I usually get up feeling unrefreshed and drowsy. So, I have changed my working hours to 1 PM to 10 PM. This helps me to avoid the stress of getting up early and trying to finish the morning rituals forcefully. However, I still have to face a lot of problems in my office due to loose motions, frequent headaches, fever, and coughing.

The doctor is treating me with antiparasitic drugs, praziquantel and oxamniquine. Though the symptoms have reduced to some extent, I have not recovered completely as the condition has progressed to cause chronic Schistosomiasis.

Prevention of complications

I have developed a few complications as the parasites have migrated to other organs like the lungs, and the liver. Luckily, the healthy changes I have made in my diet and the regular treatment have helped to prevent the other complications.

I would have suffered more if the parasites had migrated to the heart, kidneys, or the brain. The doctor told me that not taking proper precautions can lead to complications related to these organs like hypertension, seizures, urinary obstruction, and even death.

What are the daily limitations and what are the fears?

The fear of passing the infection to others and developing more complications have reduced the joy in my life. 
Though I am following proper hygienic and precautionary measures and taking the medicines as recommended, the risk of developing more serious complications cannot be ignored. I have already given up most of the activities that I enjoyed including swimming. 

The doctor informed me that the other people swimming in the same pool as me might contract this infection. I certainly do not want to be the cause of others’ miseries. So, I have given up my most pleasurable activity.

How does the future look like?

The doctor told me that most patients with schistosomiasis recover completely without developing the chronic form. Even the patients with chronic Schistosomiasis can improve with proper treatment. The only hitch here is the prognosis may be worse for the people having other health problems like HIV or any other chronic infection.

Luckily, I do not suffer from any such disorder. I hope to recover completely from chronic Schistosomiasis. But, I am aware that I will have to be on my toes as far as the treatment and dietary habits are concerned. Any minor mistake from my side can hamper my chances of recovery.

What are the risk factors?

The greatest risk factor for Schistosomiasis is not taking proper hygienic precautions. People get infected when the larval form of this parasite released by the freshwater snails penetrate through the skin when it comes in contact with the infested water.

As suggested by the doctor, I might have contracted this infection while on vacation to a country where this infection is prevalent. There is a possibility that the larvae entered my body when we were enjoying the day at the beach or pool.

The causes and evolution of Schistosomiasis

Patients with Schistosomiasis often recover within a short duration unless the parasites which cause the disease migrate to and affect the vital organs. Thankfully, the infection can be controlled if proper anti-parasitic medications are administered. I am also taking symptomatic treatment along with praziquantel and oxamniquine. The doctor has prescribed me antipyretic medicines for fever and NSAIDs for muscle pains. This has eased my symptoms to some extent.

What are the psychological effects when you have Schistosomiasis?

I am not sure how Schistosomiasis will progress. Whether I will be able to recover completely or will it cause more complications? I am not sure. This uncertainty is very disturbing. I hope my body responds well to the treatment so that I will be able to enjoy my life like any other normal person.

Topics: Schistosomiasis

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.