11 Silent Signs You Could Have a Parasite
Parasites are organisms that live in a host’s organism and use the host’s body and daily food intake to live. In order to live, they live off its host and “steal” the nutrients the hosts organisms should take.
The three main classifications of parasites are the protozoa, which live in the intestines, tissue, or blood; the helminths, which are the tapeworms, and roundworms, for example; and the ectoparasites, which attack the outside of your body, for example, lice that burrow into the hair-covered skin.
Parasites are very dangerous entities that can cause various diseases in human bodies and more often can lead to death.
The key to combating these parasitic organisms is to catch them in the early stages and treat them with medication.
In further writing of this article, you will be informed of some of the common signs that show that you might be infected with a parasite, how to take better caution and avoid parasitical infections, and what is the best course of action if you are infected with a parasite.
At the end of the text you will find a questionnaire that you can use to check your health, consisting of the most common symptoms and actions that lead to a parasitical infection, and whether you are in danger of having been infected or you are in the safe zone (if there is such a thing).
1. YOU NOTICED THAT YOU LOST WEIGHT IN A SHORT TIME
One of the most common ways to think that you are infected with a parasitic organism is if you noticed that you have lost a lot of weight, especially dry weight.
It is most likely that the culprit, in this case, is one of the most known and infamous parasitic organism, the tapeworm. Tapeworms typically live in digestive tracts by anchoring themselves to the inside of the intestines of the host and absorb the needed nutrients directly from the gut of the host.
Simply put, the tapeworm absorbs the parts of the food the host is eating, thus making the host lose weight fast.
It does not limit itself to protein nutrients. According to Kristen Case, the parasite can also take your vitamin intake, causing vitamin deficiency and anemia in your body.
In the aforementioned article, it is also said that the tapeworm diet was very popular in the past, with some cases surfacing now, in modern times.
Although being an efficient way to lose weight, intentional infection with a parasitic organism is not something the majority of doctors agree.
Losing weight is one of the most common symptoms of not just any serious disease but also a parasitic organism infection and it should be taken look at by your doctor as soon as possible.
2. YOU HAVE TROUBLES BREATHING
Parasites do not exclusively live in the host’s intestines, feeding off the daily food intake.
Some of them can live and thrive in other places in the body of the host, lungs, for example.
The most common respiratory problems that might show a presence of a parasitical organism are dry coughing, difficulty catching a breath at some times, feeling winded when walking up a flight of stairs, and more.
Some of these lung parasites, like the Dirofilaria parasite, are transmitted to a human host via a simple and innocent mosquito bite.
In Dirofilaria’s case, the symptoms are coughing, wheezing sound while breathing, among other symptoms like fever and chills.
A parasitic lungworm would, after the maturing period and growth inside the body, spread through the entry point to the lungs and penetrate the diaphragm in order to enter the lungs.
Upon reaching the lungs, the worm or worms would lay eggs and repeat the cycle.
Unfortunately, having trouble breathing is a common thing nowadays, which is especially dangerous if the culprit is a parasite.
There are many accounts to take into the analysis before concluding that a person is infected with a parasitic organism: patient history, blood tests, x-ray and CT scanning results, stool studies, and many more.
The symptoms which appear to be common are the most dangerous ones because they are the perfect hiding place for the parasitic organisms.
The perfect example is a condition called paragonimiasis, which is caused by an infection with parasitic worms, and it resembles pneumonia, a known respiratory condition.
If you catch yourself having trouble breathing while doing some menial tasks around the house, you should definitely check that as soon as you can.
3. YOU FEEL PAIN IN THE ABDOMINAL AREA
The sharp and short bursts of pain that last for an extended period might indicate that it is time to visit your doctor.
Pain in the abdominal area and stomach could indicate that you have been infected with an intestinal worm or other similar parasitic organisms.
There is a great number of intestinal parasites and all of them have a common cause of using the nutrients of the host’s body and living off of it.
The mode of operation of these organisms mostly composes of hatching eggs inside the intestines and most often than not, cause cysts and smaller damages to the internal organs.
These cysts are particularly dangerous as they bring the risks of rupturing, which further leads to other ailments and symptoms like fever. It can also lead to a fatal conclusion if left untreated for a longer period.
Of course, your intestines are not the only target for the parasitic organisms. Sometimes liver is also targeted and is a dangerous spot to have a cyst deposited on by the parasite.
The best way to stop the parasite from travelling farther up your body and through the more important organs is to give a stool sample for analysis and nip the organism in the bud.
Stomach pains are a common thing and might be caused by a variety of things.
Though, if the pain persists and it is classified as an extremely sharp pain that comes and goes and persists for a longer period, you must go to your doctor and check yourself for any parasitic organism that might have infiltrated your body.
4. YOU FEEL TIRED AND FATIGUED
Fatigue is a thing that happens to everybody. You get home from work and feel tired, hardly waiting to fall asleep and rest.
There is, however, a symptom of parasitic organisms that involve extreme fatigue and energy slump.
The category of parasites that cause fatigue, among other things, are the protozoa. Protozoa are mostly found in waters that are not perfectly clean and they use the human body as a vessel to multiply in and infect other hosts’ bodies.
As is the case with any other illness, the body will send the white blood cells to fight the infection which might cause physical and mental exhaustion in the person.
In the United States, the most common protozoa parasitic infection is Giardia, which can be found in their rivers and lakes. It can be carried around by the local wildlife which defecates and infects the waterways which find the way to people through their drinking of the infected waters.
These protozoa are difficult to test for, as they do not live in the stool of a host, so the stool analysis can give you a false negative, but in the mycoid of the small of the large intestine.
Chronic fatigue is a common sign that you might have been infected with a protozoic parasite, however, it is mostly ignored as a symptom by some doctors due to the general characteristic that most parasitic organisms must cause bowel issues, not fatigue.
If you feel total exhaustion that repeats itself regularly, it is best to consult with your doctor and explain your situation.
Checking yourself on time might save you a lot of trouble later!
5. YOU FEEL STRONG HEADACHES OR EXPERIENCE SEIZURES
If you feel like your head is near to bursting with splitting headaches or experience mild seizures, it might be neurocysticercosis. Neurocysticercosis occurs when a human being ingests an egg from a pork tapeworm.
If the egg successfully hatches, the larvae can travel through the body, all the way up to the brain. Neurocysticercosis is caused by the cysts formed on the brain by the larvae.
The symptoms depend on the location of the cysts, with headaches and seizures being the most common. The condition is dangerous because it can lead to stroke and blindness.
In order to check the body for the parasite and whether it reached the brain, the patient would need to have a CT and MRI brain scans, in addition to a special blood test called enzyme-linked immunoelectrotransfer blot.
Treatment for the infection of this parasitic organism and disease consists of mostly anti-epileptic medications for the patients that experience seizures, in addition to some anti-parasitic drugs.
In some cases, parasitic cysts can cause a blockage of a cavity or a greater number of cavities in the patient’s brain, in which case there is no other way but to immediately surgically remove the cysts and unblock the cavities, due to it being a life-threatening situation.
Neurocysticercosis is a serious issue that can be solvable if treated on time. So if you feel strong headaches, be sure to visit your doctor, and if you experience seizures, you should schedule an appointment with your chosen doctor as soon as possible.
6. YOU HAVE STRANGE FOOD CRAVINGS
It might sound strange but sometimes your parasite might make you crave certain nutrients that they need.
The most logical explanation is that if the 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, so you might crave more of those nutrients.
This symptom will never appear on its own, without at least a few more symptoms, but it is a clear sign that something is not right with your body.
As previously mentioned, the parasitic organisms need your body in order to survive.
As they feed on the nutrients that you are taking for yourself, they will grow.
The parasites will deprive you of the nutrients they find appealing, thus making you crave for more of those nutrients that have been taken from you.
According to this article, Candida, a parasitic fungus that might find its way into the intestines of human beings is known for its affinity to sugary food and will make the host digest a lot of sugar. To avoid this one, a healthy diet is recommended.
Having food cravings is a normal thing in human beings, and having the cravings solely as a symptom of parasitic infection is next to impossible. It will always be followed by the more common symptoms like bowel problems or fatigue.
If you suspect that a parasite is behind your food cravings, visit your doctor for a check-up. If you wish to learn more about how to combat a parasite and avoid feeding it, this article will prove to be an interesting read.
7. YOU EXPERIENCE A LOSS OF APPETITE
Sometimes tapeworms can make you lose your appetite, due to them irritating your bowels.Most gastrointestinal parasites that attack your intestines will sometimes make you lose your appetite.
One of the most common parasites that, among other things, cause a loss of appetite, is a group of parasites that are transferred to human bodies through the consumption of raw fish, and it is called Gnathostoma.
Gnathostomiasis, mostly diagnosed in Asia, occurs in a couple of stages. In the first stage, there is a gigantic lack of appetite, in addition to nausea and diarrhea.
This stage lasts for about 2 to 3 weeks before moving onto the next stages with more severe symptoms, like skin rash and an intense itching sensation.
Even though the loss of appetite can be caused by a number of other things like other bacteria and viruses, and might be a consequence of a psychological ailment.
Be wary if you have noticed that you experience the loss of appetite as you may have been infected with a parasitic organism.
8. YOU EXPERIENCE PAIN IN YOUR LIVER
During their development stages, some of the parasites go through the liver up to the brain, but some stay in the liver. According to this index, the larvae of the Liver Flukes parasites that cause liver disease.
It is a parasite that humans get when eating raw or undercooked fish or other similar seafood from certain areas.
The liver parasites mostly cause pain in the liver that may persist over the course of the whole lifespan of the parasite, which may be up to 30 years in some cases, if left untreated.
The main target in the liver by the parasites is the biliary tree, which is a system of vessels that direct secretions from the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, and helps with the breakdown of the ingested nutrients.
Surgical intervention for cleaning the biliary tree of the biliary tree parasites is important in order to remove the obstruction that stops the organs from breaking down the necessary nutrients.
The liver parasites have been known to complicate the work of the liver, though it is a rare sighting, and they slightly disturb the function of the liver, and, usually, do not cause a complete dysfunction.
In order to analyze whether a person suffers from liver parasites, an ultrasonography check is needed.
Pain in the liver can be a sure sign of a liver parasite that must be checked as soon as possible, in order for the person to avoid further complications.
9. YOU ARE CONSTIPATED
Gastrointestinal problems are a sure thing when dealing with a parasite infection.
The thing is that constipation is not always a sign of a parasitical infection, so it is a difficult thing to diagnose by yourself.
The majority of parasitical organisms that prefer intestines as a point of entry, due to their nature, irritate the bowels and cause constipation.
Even though not as dangerous or serious as other symptoms from this text, constipation can more often than not prolong your troubles with the parasitical organisms that have invaded your body.
In some cases, like in tapeworms, the parasites would sometimes exit through the stool of the patient, or if not the parasite, at least the larva eggs.
If a person is suffering from constipation, that means that the body loses one way of potential parasite removal.
On the other hand, the next entry is closely linked to this one and it is considered a symptom, and that is…
10. YOU HAVE DIARRHEA
Still a part of the gastrointestinal problems caused by a parasite that resides in your intestines.
Diarrhea is the body’s messy way of detoxification. It activates when the body senses a foreign body or, in our case, an organism in the human being’s organism.
It is a common occurrence in travelers, where the change of scenery and water and food intake occasionally shakes up the organism with new lesser bacteria.
The most common parasite that causes diarrhea is Giardia lamblia, a parasite that resides in various bodies of water.
Diarrhea is sometimes normal and not caused by a parasitical organism, just be aware that you should see a doctor if the problem persists longer than usual.
11. YOU HAVE NOT NOTICED ANY SYMPTOMS BUT YOU GENERALLY FEEL BAD
Sometimes you will not notice any visible symptoms because some parasitical infections carry zero symptoms with them.
The only way is to learn to have regular appointments with your doctor. Of course, you will find the parasite by doing the usual tests like blood analysis tests, stool tests, x-ray scans, MRI scans, and other forms of parasite tracking tools.
Parasites can appear asymptomatic, especially when the patient has a history of symptoms that can be associated with a parasite infection.
There was a case of a man that had travelled abroad two years before he suspected that he was infected with a parasite.
He has had a history of fluctuating weight and gastrointestinal imbalances.
The results of physical examination were normal, but the stool sample showed a possible presence of hookworms, which in the end, he did have.
There is, in reality, no way to know whether you are infected with a stealthy parasite which shows no symptoms. The only way to be really safe is to make regular doctor appointments a habit and incorporate it into your life as soon as possible.
Parasitical organisms are not dangerous if treated and managed in time.
There are various ways you can get infected so you should take special caution if you travel abroad, what you eat, where does that water you daily drink come from, is that food prepared in a hygienic surrounding, is it undercooked, and various other cases.
The rule of the thumb should be to avoid drinking tap water and watch out where and what you eat, whether you are abroad or home, it is unimportant.
Before you go, here is a little questionnaire that you should use to check whether there is a chance that you might be infected with a parasite.
Have you travelled abroad in the last 6 months?
The parasite infection mostly happens abroad, so there might be a slight chance that you picked something up when you went abroad.
Have you had trouble with your bowel movement, for example, have you been constipated or had diarrhea?
The regular stool is normal, being between going daily and once every three days is the limit, if you notice any irregularities in your stool form and schedule, there might be something wrong.
Do you feel tired after sleep?
If your sleep duration is normal and you still feel tired after waking up, there may be a chance that a parasite is messing with your organism.
Have you recently eaten at a suspicious place, in the hygienic sense?
The badly prepared food is a potential vessel of parasites, the raw and undercooked food is a cause of parasitical infection in 90% of cases.
Do you catch yourself dry coughing uncontrollably sometimes?
It might be a sign of a parasite that has found its home in your lungs. Nonetheless, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor and have him take a look at you.
Have you had inexplicable and long stomach pains?
Stomach pains might indicate that you have a parasite living in your intestines.
Do you feel hungry all the time and your weight fluctuates more than usual?
This might indicate that you are feeding the parasite and that it is taking essential nutrients from you, making you hungry even after recently having a meal.
Do you have headaches that occur daily?
It might be just a stressful day, but if a parasite is the cause of your headaches, it might mean that the larvae have arrived in your brain, leading to them making cysts in your brain and making you more problems than usual.
Have you experienced seizures, even though you have no medical history of having seizures?
Even if it might not be a parasite that is causing your seizures, this is a serious issue that must be checked by your doctor. There is a high chance that a parasitic organism is giving you trouble, though.
Do you have a pet that is regularly sleeping in your bed?
Pets are known as carriers of various parasites, if not treated in time. You are certainly at the risk of being infected by some parasites that live in your pets’ bodies.
Do you regularly skip going to the doctor?
It is important to do regular check-ups, even if you feel there is nothing wrong with your health. Making it a habit will surely be a good thing, as you might discover an ailment in its early stages and treat it accordingly.
If the majority of your answers to the above questions were positive, you might either reconsider some of your choices or go to your doctor to check your state of health.
You should not worry or be scared, just be a bit more cautious in the future, as having a parasite is never a fun time.
Remember that parasites have a lot of favorite body places to live in, being careful and aware of them is essential if you want to avoid unnecessary problems they carry.
In conclusion, parasites are organisms that feed and live inside the host’s body, and as such bring many problems to the host and their health.
There are many types of parasites but they all share the same goal of getting inside your organism and staying there as long as they can.
The biggest problem is when the parasites form cysts in various parts and organs inside your body, that is when the trouble begins.
Parasites can be avoided by simply taking care of your food and water consumption, especially when you travel outside of your country.
The most common way of infection is through the consumption of dirty water and undercooked food or food made in an unhygienic environment.
Some of the symptoms of being infected with a parasite are at first glance difficult to link with the parasite itself, as they are sometimes too common, for example, a headache or a pain in the abdominal area.
The safest way to know whether you are infected or not is to go to your doctor regularly, and as previously mentioned, take care of what you eat and drink.
Finally, parasites are not dangerous if caught in early stages, so be aware of these symptoms and if you start suspecting that you have been infected, visit your doctor as soon as you can.
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