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Thief Of Essential Nutrients – Parasites

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This weeks discussion is how parasitic infections in humans can wreak havoc in your intestinal system by robbing you of essential nutrients. Intestinal worms increase your risk for anaemia and intestinal blockages. Complications occur more frequently in older adults and in people who have suppressed immune systems, such as people with HIV or AIDS infection.

Intestinal worm infections can pose a higher risk if you’re pregnant. If you’re pregnant and are found to have an intestinal worm infection, your doctor will determine which anti-parasitic medication therapy is safe to take during pregnancy and will monitor you closely while you are treated during pregnancy.

If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, especially if you’re returning from a trip to another country, consult with your doctor or healthcare practitioner. They will work with you to determine the cause of your symptoms and advise on the best treatment.

What are parasitic worms?

Parasites are organisms that live in and feed off a living host. There are a variety of parasitic worms that can take up residence in humans. Among them are flatworms, thorny-headed worms, and roundworms.

The risk of parasitic infection is higher in rural or developing regions. The risk is great in places where food and drinking water may be contaminated and sanitation is poor.

Read on to learn more about parasitic worms, plus how to avoid becoming an unwitting host.

What worms commonly cause infection?

When it comes to parasitic infections, flatworms and roundworms are the likely culprits. These two types of parasitic worms can be found in a variety of habitats. They aren’t always visible to the naked eye. Here are a list of worms, what they look like and how they infect humans.

Tapeworm

Tapeworm infection

You can get a tapeworm, which is a type of flatworm, by drinking water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae. Raw or undercooked meat is another way tapeworms can find their way into people. Tapeworms embed their heads into the intestinal wall and remain there. From there, certain types of tapeworms can produce eggs that mature into larvae that migrate to other parts of the body.

A tapeworm looks like a long, white ribbon. They can grow up to 80 feet long and live in a human for up to 30 years.

Flukes

Phylym Platyhelmenthes or fluke/flat worms.

Flukes are a type of flatworm. People are less likely than animals to contract flukes. Raw watercress and other freshwater plants are the main sources of flukes in humans. You can also get them when you drink contaminated water.

They make their home in your intestines, blood, or tissues. There are many varieties of flukes. None reach more than a few inchesTrusted Source in length.

Hookworms

Hookworms

Hookworms are transmitted through faeces and contaminated soil. The most common way to make contact with this type of roundworm is to walk barefoot on soil infested with hookworm larvae. They can pierce through the skin.

Hookworms live in the small intestine, where they attach themselves to the intestinal wall with a “hook.” They’re usually less than half an inchTrusted Source long.

Pinworms (Threadworms)

pinworms image
Threadworms in the gut.

Pinworms are tiny, fairly harmless worms. They’re more common in children. These roundworms, when fully matured, live in the colon and rectum. The female lays eggs around the anus, usually during the night. The eggs can survive on bedding, clothing, and other materials. People contract them when they touch the eggs and end up putting them in their mouths. The eggs are so small you can even breathe them in if they become airborne. They’re easily passed among children and caregivers or in institutions.

Although pinworm infections are usually harmless and easily treatable, there have been less common cases of pinworms in the appendix that, when present, are usually in children and rarely in adults. However, these articles note that the symptoms of an intestinal parasite infection may mimic symptoms one would see in acute appendicitis, although appendicitis may or may not actually be occurring.

Trichinosis (roundworms)

Ascaris (Roundworm)

Trichinosis roundworms are passed among animals. The most common way humans get trichinosis is by eating undercooked meat that contains the larvae. The larvae mature in your intestines. As they reproduce, those larvae can travel outside the intestines into muscle and other tissue.

What are the symptoms of parasite infection?

It may be hard to believe, but you don’t always know when you have an uninvited guest inside you. You may not have any symptoms, or they may be quite mild.

The symptoms you could have include:

  • nausea
  • lack of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • general weakness

Additional parasitic infection symptoms include:

Tapeworm Symptoms

  • lumps or bumps
  • allergic reaction
  • fever
  • neurological problems such as seizures

Fluke Symptoms

  • fever
  • fatigue

Hookworm Symptoms

  • itchy rash
  • anemia
  • fatigue

Trichinosis Symptoms

  • fever
  • swelling of the face
  • muscle pain and tenderness
  • headache
  • light sensitivity
  • conjunctivitis

How is a parasitic infection treated?

The main treatment is prescription antiparasitic medication. This family of drugs can kill parasites and help pass them through your system.

The antiparasitic medication you’ll receive, doses schedule, and duration of treatment will depend on the type of parasite infection you have. Don’t stop taking the medication in the middle of the course, even if you feel better.

In very severe cases in which parasites have invaded other parts of the body, additional treatments like surgery and other medications to address additional problems caused by the parasites may be necessary.

Ask your doctor or healthcare practitioner if you should follow a special diet or take nutritional supplements during this time. Follow up with your doctor as advised.

How to prevent a parasitic infection

The following tips can often help prevent parasitic worm infection:

  • Never eat raw or undercooked meat, fish, or poultry.
  • Avoid cross-contamination during food prep by keeping meat separate from other foods.
  • Disinfect all cutting boards, utensils, and countertops that touched raw meat.
  • Don’t eat watercress or other freshwater plants raw.
  • Don’t walk barefoot in places where soil may be contaminated by faeces.
  • Clean up animal waste.

Shop for kitchen cleaning supplies. Also be sure to give your hands a good scrubbing with soap and water at these times:

  • before eating
  • before food prep
  • after touching raw meat
  • after using the toilet
  • after changing a diaper or caring for someone who’s sick
  • after touching an animal or animal waste

It’s more difficult to prevent parasitic worm infection when you’re traveling to foreign countries, especially in regions where sanitation is a problem. That’s when you should be extra vigilant.

When traveling, be sure to:

  • Be aware of how your food is prepared.
  • If you’re visiting developing countries, cook fruits and vegetables with boiled or purified water before eating, and avoid contact with soil that may be contaminated with human faeces.
  • Drink only bottled water.
  • Carry hand sanitiser. Soap and water is best, but if you don’t have access to soap and running water, it can help prevent parasitic worm infection.

Shop for hand sanitisers.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Parasitic Infections

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above or other unusual symptoms, especially if you’re returning from a trip to another country, consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner. They’ll work with you to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Diagnostic tests will be necessary to identify the culprit:

  • A faecal test involves checking a stool sample for parasites, larvae, or eggs.
  • A colonoscopy can be useful when stool samples turn up no evidence of parasites as a cause of diarrhoea. They may also help eliminate other causes for your symptoms.
  • A blood test can be used to detect some types of parasites in the blood.
  • Imaging tests like MRI, CT scan, or X-rays can be used to detect organ injury caused by parasites.
  • A tape test involves placing clear tape around the anus. The tape can be examined under a microscope for the presence of pinworms or their eggs. But even with the naked eye, sometimes you may be able to see evidence of pinworms around a child’s anus within the first few hours of falling asleep.

Some types of intestinal worms, such as tapeworms, may disappear on their own if you have a strong immune system and healthy diet and lifestyle. However, depending on the type of intestinal worm infection, one may require treatment with an anti-parasitic medication. Serious symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. See your doctor if you:

  • have blood or pus in your stool
  • are vomiting daily or frequently
  • have an elevated body temperature
  • are extremely fatigued and dehydrated

Your treatment plan will be determined based on the type of intestinal worm you have and your symptoms. Tapeworm infections are usually treated with an oral medication, such as praziquantel (Biltricide), which paralyzes the adult tapeworm. The praziquantel (Biltricide) causes the tapeworms to detach from the gut, become dissolved, and then pass out of your body through your stool.

Common treatments for a roundworm infection include mebendazole (Vermox, Emverm) and albendazole (Albenza). Don’t stop taking the medication in the middle of the course, even if you feel better.

In very severe cases in which parasites have invaded other parts of the body, additional treatments like surgery and other medications to address additional problems caused by the parasites may be necessary.

Symptoms typically begin to improve after a few weeks of treatment. Your doctor will most likely take and analyse another stool sample after treatment is complete to see if the worms have disappeared. Ask your doctor/healthcare practitioner if you should follow a special diet or take nutritional supplements during this time. Follow up with your doctor as advised.

Balanced Healing can offer natural remedies for the eradication of intestinal worms and support with a balanced nutritional program & even add in a vitamin infusion to assist in nutritional boosting during healing. Contact us Today! 

References

Website: https://www.healthline.com/health/worms-in-humans

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