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https://www.swemri.org/symptoms/

Symptoms

Chagas disease has 2 phases: acute and chronic. The acute phase may have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • General ill feeling
  • Swelling of an eye if the bite is near the eye
  • Swollen red area at site of the insect bite

After the acute phase, the disease goes into remission. No other symptoms may appear for many years. When symptoms finally develop, they may include:

  • Constipation
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart failure
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pounding or raging heart
  • Swallowing difficulties

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you think you may have Chagas disease.
 

Exams and Tests

Physical examination can confirm the symptoms. Signs of Chagas disease may include:

  • Disease of the heart muscle
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid heartbeat

Tests include:

  • Blood culture to look for signs of infection
  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram (uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, tests electrical activity in the heart)
  • Enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) to look for signs of infection
  • Peripheral blood smear to look for signs of infection

Treatment

The acute phase and reactivated Chagas disease should be treated. Infants born with the infection should also be treated. Treating the chronic phase is recommended for children and most adults. Adults with chronic Chagas disease should talk to their health care provider to decide whether treatment is needed.
 
Two drugs are used to treat this infection: benznidazole and nifurtimox.
 

Both drugs often have side effects. The side effects may be worse in older people. They may include:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Nerve damage
  • Problems sleeping
  • Skin rashes

Outlook (Prognosis)

About one third of infected people who are not treated will develop chronic or symptomatic Chagas disease. It may take more than 20 years from the time of the original infection to develop heart or digestive problems.

Abnormal heart rhythms may cause sudden death. Once heart failure develops, death usually occurs within several years.

Possible Complications

Chagas disease can cause these complications:
  • Enlarged colon
  • Enlarged esophagus with swallowing difficulty
  • Heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Malnutrition

 

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