Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

There's no commonly advised specific treatment for cryptosporidiosis, and recovery usually depends on the health of your immune system. Most healthy people recover within two weeks without medical attention.

If you have a compromised immune system, the illness can last and lead to significant malnutrition and wasting. The goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms and improve your immune response. Cryptosporidiosis treatment options include:

  • Anti-parasitic drugs. Medications, such as nitazoxanide (Alinia), can help alleviate diarrhea by attacking the metabolic processes of the cryptosporidium organisms. Azithromycin (Zithromax) may be given along with one of these medications in people with compromised immune systems.
  • Anti-motility agents. These medications slow down the movements of your intestines and increase fluid absorption to relieve diarrhea and restore normal stools. Anti-motility drugs include loperamide and its derivatives (Imodium A-D, others). Talk with your doctor before taking any of these medications.
  • Fluid replacement. You'll need either oral or intravenous replacement of fluids and electrolytes — minerals, such as sodium, potassium and calcium, that maintain the balance of fluids in your body — lost to persistent diarrhea. These precautions will help keep your body hydrated and functioning properly.
  • Antiretroviral therapies. If you have HIV/AIDS, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can reduce the viral load in your body and boost your immune response. Restoring your immune system to a certain level may completely resolve symptoms of cryptosporidiosis.
Jan. 02, 2014

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