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10 Signs You May Have A Parasite

If you continue to experience symptoms like stomach cramps and pain, nausea or vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, and digestive problems, including unexplained constipation, diarrhea, or persistent gas even after trying several treatments, you may have a parasite. Schedule an appointment at the Century Medical and Dental Center to get tested and started on treatment as parasitic infections are not only unpleasant but can also lead to various health issues. The top family medicine doctors in NY help discover the root cause of your parasite symptoms and offer the best care and advice to keep you healthy and strong.

Parasites are far more common than we think and they are not only restricted to underdeveloped countries, as it is believed. They are responsible for causing different illnesses, only a few of which affect the digestive tract. The good news is that there are proven ways to treat most forms and get rid of parasites.

What Is a Parasite?

A parasite is any organism that lives and feeds off another organism, also called the host, and often harms it. Parasite depends on its host for survival and uses the host’s resources to maintain itself.

There are three main types of parasites.

  • Protozoa – They include the single-celled organism known as Plasmodium. Protozoa can only multiply or divide within the host.
  • Helminths – These are worm parasites including roundworm, pinworm, trichina spiralis, tapeworm, and fluke. Schistosomiasis is caused by a helminth.
  • Ectoparasites – They live on other organisms rather than in their hosts, such as lice and fleas.

Common examples of parasites include:

  • Roundworms;
  • Tapeworms;
  • Pinworms;
  • Whipworms;
  • Hookworms;
  • Lice;
  • Giardia;
  • Mosquitos;
  • Bedbugs;
  • Scabies.

As they come in so many different shapes and sizes, parasites can cause a wide variety of problems. Some parasites consume your food from the side of the body, leaving you hungry and weak even after eating well, unable to gain healthy weight. Other parasites feed off your red blood cells, leading to anemia. Some parasites lay eggs, causing itching, irritability, and even insomnia.

How Do You Get Parasites?

There are multiple ways of getting a parasite. They enter the body usually through the mouth or skin, but there are many other ways of contracting a parasite.

You can get a parasite by:

  • Consuming contaminated food;
  • Eating undercooked meat;
  • Drinking contaminated water;
  • Eating unclean or contaminated fruits and vegetables;
  • Walking barefoot in the dirt;
  • Swimming in infected lakes, ponds, or creeks;
  • Handling animals;
  • Shaking hands by people who do not wash their hands after handling animals or using the bathroom;
  • Overseas traveling.

If someone is infected, they can leave little eggs on anything they touch, like a phone, salt shaker, door handle, or a menu that can pass on to others.

10 Signs You May Have a Parasite

Protozoa
Protozoa
The presence of parasites in the human body can be detected by the toxins they release into the bloodstream. They can cause some pretty intense symptoms. Some of the most common signs of parasitic infection include:

Unexplained digestive problems

Unexplained constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can be a sign of a parasite. By nature, parasites take root in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It triggers your immune system, and it can result in various symptoms depending on the organism and reaction of your immune system to it.

Watery diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, bloating, gas, and constipation can all be symptoms of parasites, according to experts.

Traveler’s diarrhea

If you have traveled internationally, chances are that you got traveler’s diarrhea on your trip. Change of location, weather, and even water and food intake often shake up the organism with new lesser bacteria. Diarrhea is the body’s messy way of detoxification. It activates when the body senses a foreign body or an organism in the GI tract.

Also, you do not know what happens on planes, restaurants, and hotels and how it can affect your digestive system. Sometimes diarrhea is the stomach’s way of trying to rid itself of something that is not sitting well, but if it persists for long and your usual medication is unable to take care of it, it might be a sign of a parasite.

Recent food poisoning

If you have had food poisoning and your digestion has not been the same since then, it may be a sign of a parasite. After the initial event and taking medications to treat the condition, if you continue to experience some level of digestive issues followed by weight loss, it is time to consult a doctor.

Insomnia or sleep apnea

Trouble falling asleep or waking up several times during the night indicates the presence of a parasite in your body. The parasite or nocturnal beast that feeds off when your body is at rest causes physical discomfort.

Skin problems

Unexplained skin irritations or rashes, hives, rosacea, or eczema are a sign of parasitic infection. Intestinal parasites can stimulate the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE), antibodies made by the immune system that produces allergic reactions in the body, including skin problems. Specific parasites like pinworms can cause itching around the anus.

Chronic itching, rashes, and hives that fail to improve with treatment must be checked by a doctor to determine the presence of parasites.

Bruxism or jaw grinding

Grinding your teeth or jaw in sleep indicates the presence of parasites. Toxins released by intestinal parasites can also lead to anxiety. When these toxins interact with neurotransmitters, they can lead to mood swings, nervousness, and grinding of the teeth at night.

Joint and muscle pain

Painful muscles and joints can be a sign of parasite infection. These parasites can invade the joint space, release inflammatory toxins, and impact movement and range of motion. Chronic joint and muscle pain, even when you are not working out or doing any hard work, indicates intestinal parasites working their way into your muscles. Trichinosis, caused by a type of roundworm, can affect the muscles.

Chronic fatigue and exhaustion

A parasite infection can be tough on the body and leave you exhausted and depressed. It can also result in mood changes, frequent feelings of apathy, and fatigue, even when you are fully rested.

Certain intestinal parasites, like Giardia, can actually cause chronic fatigue syndrome. They can lead to deficiencies and malabsorption of specific nutrients like iron and B12 that can cause further complications. Extreme fatigue and energy slump is a symptom of parasitic organisms. If you feel totally exhausted and the feeling persists, it is best to visit a doctor to have your condition properly diagnosed.

Feeling hungry even after eating

Parasites can make you feel hungry all the time. You may never feel satisfied or full after your meals, especially if this condition is accompanied by weight loss. Tapeworms live in the stomach and feed on whatever you eat, making you feel hungry and empty no matter how much you eat.

In some cases, you may begin to crave certain foods. If your parasitic organism is, for example, taking too much of your salt or sugar intake, your body will get a decreased number of salt or sugar nutrients, and you might crave more of these. The parasitic organisms need your body to survive. They feed on the nutrients you are taking for yourself to grow, and thus, they will make you crave nutrients.

Anemia or iron deficiency

Certain infections caused by parasites can lead to blood loss either through the stool or from the parasite eating the red blood cells, leading to iron-deficiency anemia. The worms feed on your blood which can result in anemia.

No symptoms at all

It may sound scary, but it is true. Some parasite infections do not produce any symptoms, which makes it very challenging to suspect their presence. In some cases, parasites can appear asymptomatic, especially when the patient has a history of symptoms that can be associated with a parasite infection.

If you suspect a parasitic infection, seeing a doctor and getting yourself tested is the only way to detect their presence and get treated as soon as possible. A timely diagnosis can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

How to Test for Parasites

Tests to diagnose parasites include:

  • Blood tests;
  • Comprehensive stool tests;
  • X-rays;
  • Endoscopy and colonoscopy;
  • MRI scans;
  • Other forms of parasite tracking tools.

Parasites can cause serious illness if left untreated, as these parasites will use your body to thrive. You can become dehydrated and die, or some parasites will invade other organs, which can cause permanent damage. Parasitical organisms are not dangerous if treated and managed in time.

Treatment Options

Treating options for parasites include:

Medication

Your doctor will recommend medications that are most effective for your particular parasite. Anti-parasitic prescription medications help immensely, especially if a specific parasite has been identified through stool testing or biopsy. Every parasite is slightly different, but anti-parasitic medications like albendazole, mebendazole, or pyrantelpamoate are the most commonly prescribed ones.

You may need just one dose or may have to continue the medication for several weeks to ensure no traces of parasites remain in your body. It is essential to take the medicines as directed by the physician for best results.

Alternative therapies

Conventional medical treatments are effective for getting rid of parasites quickly and with fewer side effects as compared to alternative ones. But alternative therapies can play a significant role when used in combination with conventional medication. Work out with your doctor to know what kind of organism is causing problems before starting any treatment.

Probiotics

Commonly prescribed probiotics to prevent parasite growth and infection include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus;
  • Lactobacilus plantarum;
  • Saccharomyces boulardii bifidobacteria.

How to Get Rid of Parasites

There are some tried and tested ways to help you fight the parasites, prevent them from growing and get rid of them.

  • Avoid simple carbohydrates such as those found in refined foods, fruits, juices, dairy products, and sugars as parasites thrive on them;
  • Regular fasting and cleansing will help to starve and eliminate parasites faster;
  • Include raw garlic, pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, beets, and carrots, all of which are known to kill parasites;
  • Drink a lot of water to flush out your system;
  • Eat more fiber as it can help to get rid of worms;
  • Include vitamin C and zinc in your diet as they empower the immune system, but after consulting your doctor;
  • Learn to manage your stress as you cannot keep up your immune system and kill the parasite if you are under chronic stress;
  • Focus on your gut defense as this is a great strategy to eliminate parasites; digestive enzymes can help to restore your intestinal tract to its normal state, making it an unfriendly place for parasites;
  • Herbs can help to strengthen the body system and kill parasites but consult your doctor before taking any herbs to ensure they work well for you.

The key to combating these dangerous organisms is to catch them early and treat them with medication. Following the recommended nutritional guidelines can keep the parasites from growing and ensure you get rid of them before they can cause any critical damage to the body organs.

From uncontrolled digest issues to stress disorders, and skin problems, a parasitic infection can affect your mental and physical health severely if left untreated. The experienced and board-certified doctors at the Century Medical and Dental Center help you feel better by providing positive solutions that work best for your discomfort. Using the latest diagnostic techniques and most up-to-date medical research, the specialist doctor will identify which type of parasite you have and provide effective treatment to ensure you enjoy a better quality of life with your loved ones.

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