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What Are Most Common Parasites in Humans? Treatment for Parasites and Symptoms

Update Date: Dec 20, 2019 03:55 PM EST
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What Are Most Common Parasites in Humans? Treatment for Parasites and Symptoms
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While nobody ever anticipates it to happen, it's not impossible to end up with a parasite infection. In fact, it's likely easier than you think, especially if you're traveling abroad.

Regardless of how you come into contact with this organism, it's important to understand which ones are a danger to humans and what symptoms to look out for.

Not sure where to start? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know about when you should seek treatment for parasites.

So... What Types of Parasites Are Common in Humans?

While there are thousands of different species of parasites, there's a handful that is sometimes a problem for humans.

Let's dive in.

Pinworms

These are roundworms that live in the colon and intestinal tract. Unlike many other parasites, though, they're relatively harmless.

But, this doesn't mean that complications can't arise.

These worms lay eggs around the anus, which will then hatch and cause burning, itching, and perhaps even pain.

How They're Contracted

People come into contact with pinworm eggs and then touch their mouths at some point afterward. The eggs are barely visible and can live for weeks on clothes, bedding, etc.

As such, they're far more common in children than adults.

Hookworms

These worms attach themselves to the lining of your intestines with a hook-like appendage (hence their name).

Over time, these organisms siphon nutrients from your body by consuming your blood. They also secrete a substance that prevents your blood from clotting. As such, someone with a hookworm mass infection will need medical treatment.

How They're Contracted

Those who come in direct contact with feces are at the highest risk of hookworm infection. But, people can also become infected by walking barefoot on soil that has hookworm larvae in it.

Since they can penetrate the skin, the worm enters the body through the feet and travels to the lungs, then the intestines. 

Flukes

These strive to accomplish the same task as hookworms-- living inside your body for nourishment.

Flukes that are still developing will navigate through your intestines and abdominal cavity toward your liver. Here, they will mature into adults and make their home in your liver's bile ducts.

How They're Contracted

It's rare for humans to become infected with flukes due to needing to ingest the parasite itself. But, people who eat raw freshwater plants are at risk.

Similarly, people can become infected if they eat vegetables or fruits that have been washed with contaminated water. Drinking contaminated also carries the risk of infection.

Tapeworms

This type of parasite is typically the organism people associate with the term. Their goal is to embed themselves within the body's intestinal lining and feed off blood to sustain themselves.

Over time, they can lay eggs that hatch into other worms that navigate through the body to find a region of their own. Under the right conditions, they can grow to be approximately 80 feet in length.

How They're Contracted

Tapeworms are relatively uncommon in humans and are more often found in animals. They can infect humans, though, if a person consumes infected meat that hasn't been properly cooked.

The meats associated with tapeworm infections are typically beef, fish, and pork due to some variants of these dishes involving thorough cooking. For this reason, consuming chicken isn't a risk due to the complications that already exist with undercooked chicken.

Trichinosis Worms

This type of parasite is particularly threatening due to its tendency to travel throughout the body.

More specifically, a person with a trichinosis infection will experience the parasite navigating to muscle tissue. This can easily result in heart complications.

To make matters worse, trichinosis worms will seek out other types of tissue in your body as well. Possible regions include your brain, spine, and lungs.

How They're Contracted

Like tapeworms, infected meat is the culprit when it comes to contracting trichinosis worms. The body's stomach acid dissolves a protective covering around the worm larvae, and they then migrate to the intestines to mature and breed.

What Are The Symptoms of a Parasite Infection?

The symptoms you experience are variable depending on what parasite you're infected with. In general, though, you're likely to experience the following.

  • General fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A suppressed appetite
  • Abdominal pain (which can sometimes be severe)
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • More specific symptoms can include:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seizures
  • Anemia
  • As you can tell, some of these are serious medical issues and often require immediate attention.

    How Is an Infection Diagnosed?

    If you suspect that you're suffering from a parasite infection, there are a few different ways that doctors can find out.

    Fecal tests and blood tests are the most common diagnostic procedures. But, a colonoscopy may be required in some cases (particularly if you've experienced diarrhea).

    Additionally, CT-scans or X-rays can be done in order to detect any injury that parasites may have caused to your organs.

    What About Treatment?

    Fortunately, treatment often consists of simple medication that kills the parasites within your system. Afterward, your body will heal and you'll be back to normal.

    In extreme cases, some patients require surgery. But, these are few and far between and are not at all the regular procedures for treating a parasite infection.

    Knowing When to Seek Treatment For Parasites Can Seem Difficult

    But it doesn't have to be.

    With the above information about treatment for parasites in mind, you'll be well on your way to getting the medical attention you need and staying as healthy as possible afterward.

    Want to learn more about improving your quality of life? Our blog has plenty of useful info.

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