Parasites are microscopic organisms that live in the body of the host. They depend entirely on the host for their nutrition and shelter. Some of them do not harm the host, but there are others that can cause a series of infections. These can be of any size from the microscopic protozoa to the worms that can be seen with naked eyes. These organisms can live in any part of the body. Most of the individuals are affected by intestinal parasites or worms that live in the small or large intestine of the body. The signs and symptoms exhibited by these harmful disease-causing germs in humans are unlikely to be identified since it takes several weeks and even months for the indications of an infection to surface.
Some of the most common types of parasites that affect human beings are tapeworms, liver flukes, ringworm, and heartworms etc. There are many media through which a parasite can enter the body. Contaminated food, water and polluted air are some of the common media from where the parasites enter a body and cause infections. Let's learn more about the indications of parasitic attack in humans, ways to prevent their infestation and methods of treating the infection caused by them.
Indications of Parasites in the Body
After parasites enter the body, they release certain toxins that can cause several types of infections and health related disorders. The parasites that are present in the intestinal tract can cause inflammation of the inner lining or the mucosa membrane of the intestines. The toxins can also cause malfunctioning of certain organs like the kidneys and liver. Given below are some indicants of the presence of protozoa in the body:
The presence of certain parasites in the body can cause allergic reactions. Some parasites irritate and perforate the inner lining of the intestinal tract, leading to intestinal permeability (also known as a leaky gut). The presence of these pathogens in the body leads to the over production of the body's defense cells called eosinophils. An excess of these fighter cells in the body can cause allergic reactions. The presence of these allergy-producing parasites can also trigger the over production of immunoglobulin E (IgE), which is a type of antibody.
The presence of certain types of worms like taenia solium (tapeworm), ascaris lumbricoides (roundworm) and liver flukes attach themselves to the mucosal membrane of the intestine and suck the nutrients from the body. If there are many worms present in the intestinal tract, then they also tend to suck blood causing iron deficiency anemia or perinicious anemia.
Bloating and Gas
The inflammation caused due to the toxins, produced by the pathogens living in the small intestine can lead to a feeling of fullness or bloating and gas. This can also lead to the indigestion of high fiber foods like beans, vegetables and raw fruits. The symptom of this condition is a recurring distention of the abdomen. This symptom can last for a few months to many years till the protozoa are completely eliminated from the body.
Some parasites are so large that they tend to block the intestinal passage restricting proper bowel movement. The infestation of worms can cause constipation, which can cause the elimination of waste materials from the body difficult and infrequent.
Certain protozoa like entamoeba histolytica can cause the over production of an enzyme called prostaglandin, which leads to the loss of sodium and chloride from the body. This condition can develop into diarrhea, or amoebiasis where the person may experience loose, watery stools. This condition may also lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Pathogens in the body can exhaust it of energy. This is because microorganisms cause malabsorption of carbohydrates, fats, minerals, proteins and vitamins, which may result in deficiencies. All these factors can drain vital energy from the body and end up in fatigue. In the absence of timely diagnosis and treatment, this condition can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome.
Joint and Muscle Pain
The parasites tend to travel to other parts in the body and sometimes even in the muscles. This can lead to muscle stiffness, pain, irritation and inflammation of the joints.
The toxins produced by the parasites can create allergic reactions on the skin like hives, weeping eczema and rashes etc. The infestation of protozoa can lead to dermatitis, swelling, sores and lesions on some parts of the body like face, area around the eyes, and feet.
Some other parasites in human symptoms are aches, apathy, tumors, sleep disorders, grinding of teeth, muscle wastage, dysfunction of the immune system, impaired cognitive ability, difficulty in concentrating, and nervousness, etc.
Prevention and Treatment
In order to prevent infections, one must practice clean habits like washing hands and legs after coming from outside, using a disinfectant and drinking boiled water. Washing fruits and vegetables before consuming them is also a necessity to ward off any infections. For diagnosis, the doctor may tell you to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) to detect the presence of worms. A stool sample may also be taken in case of intestinal worms. In case you are infected by parasites or protozoa, get some antibiotics and other drugs.
In some cases parasites in the body can be life-threatening that can also damage the immune system. So if you observe any symptoms of parasites in you, consult a doctor who may prescribe medication to treat the symptoms and ward off any possible infection. Take care!