3 Signs You Have Parasites (& Don’t Know It)

This nutrition bite outlines the most common parasites that humans encounter and how we get them. Read on to find out how these pathogens harm our wellbeing and how you can avoid them. 

What Are Parasites?

Parasites are nasty little critters that essentially find ways to hop onto or into your body and make it their home. 

Biologically, parasites need a host to live and reproduce in. Depending on the level of infection, they may have symptoms such as stomach aches, abdominal cramps, dehydration, skin issues, and/or nausea. In more severe cases, developing an autoimmune disease is a possibility. 

There are 4 common types of parasites:

1. Helminths are worm-like organisms such as flatworms and tapeworms. Typically transmitted through contaminated meat, you can still acquire these parasites if your household is meat-f.ree, as tapeworm eggs can infect your vegetables if they’re irrigated with a contaminated water supply.
2. Protozoa are microscopic organisms that infect your intestines after ingesting contaminated food or water. 
3. Ectoparasites are those that live on the outside of their hosts, such as fleas, ticks, and mites. These parasites dwell in a number of locations, and transmission occurs by being in close proximity to another infected host, or from being wooded or tall, grassy areas. 
4. Viruses are parasites that need a host to live in and replicate in. Viruses are found everywhere, and can be transmitted through air, water, or direct contact. 

3 Signs You May Have Parasites

Parasites have been around for millions of years, are ancient, and it’s because of how they interact with their host that they have stood the test of time. They don’t want to kill off their host, and they don’t want their host to kill them, so they’ve evolved to be quite stealthy. Thus, many people don’t even know they have parasites. (The last thing they want is for you to get rid of them. Their very lives depend on them being undetected!)

Here are common signs you may have parasites:

1. Unintended Weight Loss
Some parasites, like Helminths, live in our digestive tract and leach off the food we eat in order to grow and multiply. If you have unexplained weight loss, along with chronic bloating and loose stools, you might have a worm infection. 

Left unchecked, significant unintended weight loss can lead to malnutrition and/or autoimmune issues. These problems can include developing food intolerances, or, in prolonged, severe cases… muscle, brain and eye damage!

2. Chronic Digestive Issues
Unlike a worm infection, protozoa infections can turn ugly fast because they can reproduce quickly in your body. These parasites infect your intestines and cause all kinds of issues, including fatigue, abdominal cramping, foul smelling burps, and diarrhea. If left untreated, you can expect these early symptoms to become more severe. You may also develop a fever, and, in long-term infections, a leaky gut. 

3. You Develop A Rash And Then A Fever
A rash, commonly accompanied by an itch or swelling, is a common external sign that a parasite has bitten you. In most cases, this is all you’ll experience. However, if you do get bitten by a parasite, you’d do well to monitor how you feel afterwards. 

If you develop a fever, or if your rash gets worse, you may have been infected with bacteria or a virus that the parasite was carrying. 

This is what makes ectoparasites particularly dangerous, because they can introduce other parasites (or diseases) to your body, such as tapeworms from fleas or lupus from ticks!

Dangers And Failings of Pharmaceutical Treatments

The problem with using pharmaceutical treatments to treat parasites is that the symptoms are treated but the cause is not. Medication may help the fever, abdominal pain, or itchy rash caused by a parasite, but rarely does it target the parasite itself. 

On the other hand, actual antiparasitic drugs can cause severe reactions such as nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Secondly, due to the large variety of parasites out there, the antiparasitic drugs don’t always work! [1

So what should you do?!

Educating yourself is a great place to start. Find out more about these AND other common parasites in the f.ree digital guide, Parasites: The Good and the Bad.

In it, you’ll discover additional symptoms that are indicative of having a parasite, as well as what your options are for getting rid of them, plus what you can do to protect yourself from ever getting a parasitic infection (or getting one again!). 

>> Grab your copy of Parasites: The Good and the Bad here.

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544251/

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