Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a vector-borne parasitic disease prevalent in tropical area. It is caused by a parasitic protozoan, Trypanosoma cruzi,and is transmitted by insect vectors, known as triatomine bugs. There are two therapeutical approaches to the disease- anti-parasitic treatment and symptomatic treatment.
Anti-parasitic treatment is mostly beneficial in the primary stages of infection. On the other hand, symptomatic treatments include the alleviation of cardiac and intestinal problems of patients suffering from Chagas disease.
This article seeks to enlighten you upon the symptoms of Chagas disease so that you may adopt early detection of the disease and hence it’s complete cure.
Symptoms of Chagas Disease
Symptoms of Chagas disease ranges from mild to severe although most stages are asymptomatic, except the chronic stage. However, here is a list of basic symptoms that can be encountered in the two basic phases of the disease:
This phase lasts for a few weeks or months since the day of infection. This phase is often without any symptoms and hence diagnosis is difficult. The mild symptoms that are observed during this phase include:
- Swelling at the site of infection- You may encounter swelling at the position where the parasite has entered the body, a phenomena known as chagoma.
- Swelling of the eyelids- You must look for any kind of inflammation of the eyelids, on the side of the face where the bite wound is situated, or at the site of deposition of bug feces. This is known as Romaña’s sign.
- Enlargement of spleen or liver
- Swelling of various glands
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting
- Headaches, body aches and rashes
- Fever and fatigue
The above symptoms may arise with a mild effect and resolve spontaneously in 90% of patients. Even after the symptomatic treatment, the disease persists and proceeds to the chronic phase.
This phase may occur about 10 to 15 years since the infection and includes two types:
Indeterminate Chronic Phase
This is asymptomatic chronic phase that occurs in 60% to 80% of patients.
Determinate Chronic Phase
The remaining 20% to 40% individuals tend to suffer from the symptoms of this phase. The determinate phase affects nervous, digestive and cardiovascular system.
- Dilated cardiomyotherapy: These include abnormalities in the heart-beats and result in death due to cardiac arrythmia.
- Congested heart failure.
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Secondary achalasia: Difficulty in swallowing due to enlargement of esophagus (megaesophagus)
- Dilated colon: Abdominal pain and constipation due to enlargement of colon.
- Dementia, dizziness, headaches.
Chagas disease leads to malfunction of heart and intestine and is difficult to diagnose due to its asymptomatic development. Hence, always consult a doctor if you encounter any of the above symptoms and seek early treatment.
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