A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Cutting the Cheese — my Giardia problems improving after probiotics

May 30th, 2015 Posted in giardia

This is another chapter in my Giardia diary. I picked up Giardia in July of 2014. I went tubing in the Potomac river with a bunch of friends and co-workers, drank copious amounts of beer and apparently enough river water to give me giardia.

I took Metronidazole (Flagyl) and the immediate symptoms went away by the end of August, just in time for me to start a new job at Amazon Web Services without needing to make #2 four times per day.

Intense lactose intolerance

However, any dairy products, even a slice of butter or cheese, would give me gas and diarrhea. In March, I went back to see my PCP. I gave them stool samples, which came back negative for giardia.
StoolColl
The only advice he could give me was to take probiotics regularly and hope that things got better.

What helped

Daily probiotics

I was taking “Vitacost Probiotic 15-35 — 35 billion CFU** – 120 Vegetarian Capsules” until about March 2015. They didn’t agree with me and it took forever to figure out why. Turns out they contain milk !!!

My friend Ben M. recommended Align probiotics since they helped him get over his Giardia bout, which he picked up while drinking from a stream in India (!!?!!).
india-river
Align Probiotics are expensive but I think Align is what helped my digestive system recover. They come in a foil tin, like birth control pills, that have a day of the week labeled on them. It helps you to not miss a dose.

They helped A LOT!!! I started getting gas and diarrhea a lot less often after 2 weeks into the 4 week course.

Lactaid

Lactaid milk made me sick still.
lactaid

My friend Chelsey also has lactose issues and eats one or two Lactaid pills just before eating cheese. I tried that too. You can buy Lactaid caps in boxes of 60 from Amazon for about $12. The Lactaid pills contain the enzyme Lactase, which apparently Giardia patients stop producing. The pills didn’t help much at first; I could only have about one coffee creamer in the morning. Anything more than that and I’d get sick. But it got better.

I’ve finished the Align 4-week course ad now, I can have cheese on my sandwich or hamburger. I can’t drink a full glass of milk, or eat more than a slice of pizza, but stay tuned for another episode of Cutting the Cheese!

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