Intestinal Parasites – Common Symptoms and Major Treatments

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Intestinal Parasites Introduction

There is a general conception that intestinal parasites mostly infect humans in underdeveloped nations of Africa, Asia and South America. Although, this notion is correct still not many people know that human intestinal parasites also infect millions of people in the US and Europe. ‘Human intestinal parasites’ is another name to describe microscopic one-cell organisms, protozoa. Some of the common one-cell intestinal parasites include Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba hystolytica, while bigger intestinal worms (Helminths) include tapeworms, roundworms and hookworms etc.

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Intestinal Parasites Causes

Intestinal parasites are primarily contracted through in-take of contaminated food or water. It is not a coincidence that humans living in areas with poor sanitary conditions are more vulnerable to the threat of contracting intestinal parasites. Basically, these parasites are shed in human or animal feces and when food or water supply contaminated with tiny bits of such waste material are consumed, there is a strong possibility of contracting intestinal parasites. Furthermore, intestinal parasites can also be transferred from one person to another as a result of oral/anal sex or non-intimate body contact such as changing diaper.

Intestinal Parasites Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms of contracting intestinal parasites may different depending upon the severity of the condition and the type of parasite that is involved. Research suggests that pinworms are the most commonly found intestinal parasite in the US in which case the patients show mild symptoms of feeling itchy in the perianal area. However, more telltale symptoms can be observed in case of Giardia parasite which may include severe and chronic diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and cramps and gas problem.

Correct diagnosis can be difficult when it comes to determining infection caused by intestinal parasite, amebiasis because its symptoms are almost identical to that of inflammatory bowel disease. These may include diarrhea with blood, abdominal pain and weight loss.

Amebic dysentery is a particular medical condition caused by Entamoeba histolytica and its major symptoms include colitis with ulcers, bloody stool, occasional appearance of pus in stool and cramps in abdomen.

Intestinal Parasites Treatment & Prevention

Some of the popular diagnosis tests devised to detect intestinal parasites include Ova and parasites test, blood tests, hemoccult tests and biopsy. There are several common prevention tips that can be used to minimize the threat of contracting intestinal parasites. Since this danger mostly lurks in areas with poor hygiene and contaminated food, experts advice to always wash hands carefully before eating, avoiding eating raw food or peeled fruits from food stands and to compulsorily wash fruits and vegetables before using them. Tourists visiting underdeveloped regions such as Africa, Asia and South America are also warned not to eat or drink from food stands and to strictly use bottled water. Greater care and preventive measures should also be adopted while indulging in any sexual activity such as oral or anal sex.

As for treatment of intestinal parasites infection, doctors usually prescribe use of certain anti-parasitic drugs such as tinidazole, furazolidone, metronidazole and quinacrine. Female patients going through pregnancy are mostly directed to use paramomycin as this drug does not become part of the blood stream.

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