Parasitic diseases are common across the globe yet people lack proper knowledge about them. Some even consider them to be confined only to the underdeveloped countries where lack of sanitation is a key concern. You will be surprised to know that these are widely prevalent in developed countries as well. The limited knowledge about parasites and diseases they cause make them difficult to deal with. Therefore, it is feasible to know all about such conditions which can turn serious if not addressed properly.
What are parasites and how you may get them?
Parasites refer to the organisms which live and feed off on another organism. In humans, these reside inside the intestine and feed off on the food you eat. Roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms are some of the most common parasites. While some take toll of your nutrition, others may feed on your red blood cells. These can cause a myriad of diseases related to digestion, skin, and nutritional deficiencies.
There are different means by which parasites can enter your body. Primarily, they make way into the digestive system through contaminated food and water. Parasites live in undercooked meat and contaminated fruits and vegetables. Water from unhygienic sources such as open ponds, lakes, and wells is also a place where parasites reside. Besides the oral route, parasites may also enter your body through the bottom of your feet.
How do parasites spread?
The next important thing to know about parasites is that they spread easily from an infected person to others. They can be passed through touches, such as from a doorknob, salt shaker and even a phone if an infected person touches them without washing hands. Another way in which parasites propagate is by coming in contact with infected animals. People who travel overseas have high chances of getting infected with local parasitic diseases and carrying them to the other places they travel to. Practices like hand washing, hygiene and precautionary vaccinations are very important to prevent the spread of these infections.
Telltale symptoms that indicate parasites in your gut
Besides knowing the preventive measures, it is important to be able to identify their presence in the first place. Here are some telltale symptoms that indicate the presence of parasites in your gut:
- Unexplained digestive problems such as repeated bouts of diarrhoea, constipation and stomach infections.
- Skin irritation, rashes, allergies and conditions such as hives, eczema and rosacea.
- A feeling of constant fatigue or exhaustion even after taking adequate rest.
- Trouble getting enough sleep or waking up repeatedly during the night.
- Grinding your teeth during sleep.
- Unexplained pain and soreness in joints and muscles.
- Not feeling satiated even after full meals and losing weight despite eating healthy.
- Iron-deficiency or anemia.
- A constant feeling of depression or lethargy.
A majority of these symptoms are very general and you may not even realize that you are harboring parasites within your body. However, the key lies in being vigilant and aware and taking the right measures to detect them and get treated. If one or more of these symptoms persist, you should see a doctor and get diagnostic tests. Doctors usually recommend a conventional stool test to identify parasites. Furthermore, comprehensive testing is recommended if you are suffering from severe infections, skin allergies and anaemia.
How to treat parasites?
Now the next question would be how to fight off parasites in your gut. Of course, prevention is considered as the best approach because it can ensure that you do not get them in the first place. Hygienic habits and consumption of uncontaminated food and water are the main measures to be taken in this context. Those who travel overseas on a frequent basis should take extra care of hygiene while they are travelling to countries where there are high incidences of parasitic infections. Precautionary vaccinations may also be helpful for such people. You may rely on some herbal remedies to strengthen your gut. If you do get infected, getting the right treatment for the elimination of parasites is important. Consult a specialist with experience in functional medicine. Also, ensure that you follow the best hygiene practice to avoid spreading the infection at home and workplace.
Parasites are common and it is easy to get infected. But the resulting problems can be serious and prolonged. For this reason, you should pay extra heed to prevent being infected with them. And if you do get infected, you should focus on avoiding spreading the infection and getting it treated timely and appropriately. After all, you cannot just let some tiny worms take toll of your health!