You might think having a parasite is something only out of a horror movie, but it can actually happen to anyone. Even with the higher standards of food safety in the U.S. compared to undeveloped countries, parasites are “far more common than you think,” according to MindBodyGreen.com.
The site notes there are number of different parasites that can end up in your intestines such as roundworms, tapeworms, pinworms, whipworms, hookworms, and you may have different symptoms depending on which is invading your guts. Once the parasite has been identified, it can be targeted with medications. Here are six signs you may be host to a parasite…
1. Tummy Trouble
BodyEcology.com said that if you have chronic digestive issues that don’t go away, even when you’re eating healthily (including “good bacteria”), there’s a chance you may be harboring a parasite. These digestive issues could present themselves as pain, gas, or bloating, notes the source.
The site offers remedies to help recover from parasites, but notes that even if you don’t have a parasite, “it can sometimes take as long as six months to completely cool down an inflammatory response in the gut”.
Australia’s department of health explains that a certain infection can cause itching in and around the private parts. The particular parasite responsible for itching is called a threadworm or pinworm, which as the name suggests, “look like tiny white threads and live in the intestine,” notes the source.
The site explains that female threadworms lay their eggs near the opening of the anus, which can activate itching in that area. A risk of this is that people may scratch the area too much, which can break the skin and lead to infection.
This might sound like a problem you’d only encounter in 16th-century England, but it still occurs on the regular around the world. It’s usually contracted by people who have taken a tropical vacation, and is the result of parasites or bacteria, according to MedBroadcast.
One type of dysentery, called amoebic dysentery, is caused by a parasite living in the large intestines, notes the site. Dysentery itself has many unpleasant symptoms, from diarrhea marked with blood or mucus, sudden onset of fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, and dehydration, notes the source.
4. Fatigue and Dizziness
Parasites eat what you’re eating, meaning they feed off the nutrition of your food before your body has a chance to absorb all the vitamins and nutrients. The Huffington Post explains that this parasite infection could be the reason you’re feeling tired all the time.
One group of parasites is worms that attach to the lining of the small intestine, which can lead to loss of nutrients, explains the source. Another category of parasites is called protozoa, which are single-celled organisms, and can trigger unusual symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, and even joint pain and hives, it adds. Because the parasites are sucking away nutrients, another symptom is weight loss.
5. Nausea and Vomiting
As if the thought of having worms living in your gut isn’t enough to make you feel sick, the parasites themselves will help ensure you do. The Clinic of Complementary and Osteopathy Medicine (WiseHealthCenter.com) explains that a “fairly common symptom” of parasitic infections include throwing up (or having the urge to).
These particular symptoms can be triggered by a parasite in the digestive system, most commonly the intestines. “It is within this area of the body that many parasites mature and even breed, which can prompt nausea and vomiting in many people,” explains the site.
6. Mental Health Impacts
The Huffington Post published an article in 2016 that explains people experiencing “rage disorder” are twice as likely to have a parasitic infection from undercooked meat or contaminated water. The Post explains it further solidifies the link between physical and mental well-being.
The article notes research by the University of Chicago found that a “relatively harmless infection” called toxoplasmosis might be responsible for cases of Intermittent Explosive Disorder, which it describes as “a mental health condition that triggers recurrent outbursts of aggression in situations that don’t necessarily call for it”. The source adds that an estimated 30-percent of the population has toxoplasmosis and healthy people likely won’t have any symptoms.
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