What is Chagas Disease?
Chagas Disease is a kind of disease that comes from tropical parasitic bugs. These bugs are also known as the Trypanosoma cruzi and are often found in America. These bugs, however, only attack at night while hiding in the rafters and the ceiling of one’s house. As they hide in the ceiling, they descend down only at night and start infecting one’s face. This is why they’re also known as “kissing bugs” or sometimes, even as bed bugs.
However, the bugs itself are not what doctors cure. Doctors usually prescribe medicines that deal with the disease they bring: Trypanosoma cruzi infection or the T. Cruzi Infection. It is commonly known as the Kissing Bug Disease or Chagas Disease. Depending on what one’s condition is, they would give the proper medicine. For some people, they only experience mild infections and would only get anti-parasitic medicine. Those who feel the chronic effects are often hospitalized.
How does one get Chagas Disease?
Chagas Disease is carried by the Trypanosoma cruzi. These bugs hide in mud, thatch or adobe huts. They also are primarily found in South America or Latin America. However, they mostly appear in poor areas where cleanliness is not a priority. Some people can get it by eating food that has the feces of the infected creature or theTrypanosoma cruzi itself. This is one of the common risk factors that increase one’s chances of getting the T. Cruzi infection.
Another possibility is getting an organ transplant. The organ if not screened properly can be carryingTrypanosoma cruzi infection. In which if the hospital transplants the infected organ to another person, they too can get Chagas Disease and suffer from the chronic or acute effects. In most cases, Chagas Disease is mostly passed on via blood.
This also makes pregnant women with Chagas Disease a carrier and would infect their unborn baby. Though they say that a woman with Chagas Disease can still breastfeed her baby, it’s best to get a second opinion and that if the woman’s nipples are cracked and bleeding, best that she shouldn’t until the bleeding stops.
What are Chagas Disease symptoms?
Chagas Disease symptoms often times can either be acute or chronic. Acute symptoms can involve:
- Rashes: This is your body’s way of purging the dirt and infection by appearing as rashes. Because the body cannot completely purge it out, it comes in the form of rashes on the skin.
- Fever: Fever is a body’s common mechanism to “burn” out the infection. By increasing the heat, it would denature the proteins present in the bacteria and infection which makes it easier to kill.
- Headaches: Headaches may be due to the fever as your body is increasing its body temperature to fight the infection. As all the energy is devoted to the heat, the amount of energy meant for thinking may also disappear which leads to headaches.
- Body Aches: Since the infection is bloodborne, body aches can also be a symptom as its traveling through your blood and infecting the rest of the body.
While these are the most common Chagas Disease symptoms, other symptoms include:
- Mild swelling of the liver or spleen
- Swelling of the eyelids
- A local infection known as the Chagoma: The Chagoma is usually also what doctors look at. This is what tells them how the infection entered in the first place.
Since these are mostly the acute symptoms, they’re easily treatable and can fade away in a few weeks. Sometimes, it takes months. However, there are times that the condition will progress into something far worse. It may also cause:
- Heart failure
- Enlarged Esophagus: The esophagus becomes swollen with the infection that it becomes difficult to swallow.
- Megacolon: The megacolon also known as a swollen colon is when the colon becomes swollen due to an infection. This can cause constipation and abdominal pain.
What are the treatments for Chagas Disease?
Chagas Disease treatments can vary depending on how far the disease has progressed. If the disease is still in its acute stages then, Chagas Disease can be treated by normal anti-parasitics. However, having chronic symptoms require hospitalization if the symptoms get worse.
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