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What Is Nitazoxanide?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Images By: Iqbal Osman, Elisabetta Figus, Jpagetrfphotos, 9Nong, Lsantilli
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Nitazoxanide is an antiprotozoal medication that is used to treat diarrhea caused by infection with protozoans. This medication cures the diarrhea by killing off the single-celled parasite that causes the condition when it colonizes a person's digestive system. A three day course of treatment is usually enough to kill off the parasites and cure the patient.

The protozoans Giardia and Cryptosporidium can be effectively killed with nitazoxanide. These microscopic life forms can invade a person's digestive tract and cause painful and inconvenient symptoms, including diarrhea that lasts for a week or more. The medication should be used as directed so that it completely kills the microorganisms. Otherwise, they can recolonize. Nitazoxanide is an antiprotozoal agent and works by interfering with the life cycle of the infectious protozoan. These creatures are larger and hardier than the bacterial agents that can cause intestinal problems and need to be treated with medication that specifically targets protozoans.

This medication may be given as an oral suspension or by tablet and is safe for use in children. In most cases, it is taken twice a day for three days. This treatment is generally enough to kill the microorganism and restore the health of the patient.

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Side effects from nitazoxanide are usually mild. The most common effects associated with it are gastrointestinal discomfort and changes in the color of the urine. Occasionally, serious side effects such as dizziness or rash occur. These should be reported to a doctor because they could indicate that the patient is allergic to the medication. Taking this medication with food can reduce the severity of the side effects and prevent stomach discomfort.

Patients who are taking other medications should check with a doctor before taking nitazoxanide. There are many different medications that can interfere with it, rendering it or the other medications less effective. Nitazoxanide may also be unsafe for patients with immune disorders or with organ disease.

Though nitazoxanide is not an antibiotic, it is treated like one with respect to administration. It should not be shared, and the full course of treatment should be taken, even if symptoms improve, to ensure that all of the parasites are killed. If symptoms continue once the treatment is over, the patient should see the doctor again.

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