The diseases caused by parasites in the intestine are common worldwide and depending on the geographical area there are varieties that are more prevalent.

In the United States the most common are Enterobius vermicularis, Giardia lamblia, Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus, and  Entamoebahistolytica (1).

The intestinal parasites scientifically known as helminths and popularly called worms or intestinal worms, are one of the main varieties. Enterobius vermicularis (2), is the intestinal worm located in most geographical areas and the most common in the United States.

Parasites cause diseases such as ascariasis, oxyuriasis, giardiasis, amoebiasis, and hookworm infections.

Did you know that you could have intestinal parasites and not know it? We are going to know in this article the symptoms that can alert you to the presence of these parasites in your body.

Symptoms of the presence of parasites in the intestine

Symptoms appear after the ingestion of the eggs, once they reproduce and grow in the intestine. They can be found on the ground, contaminated water, badly washed food, feces, raw meats, among others.

There are symptoms in common and others characteristic of each parasitic disease. They generally inhabit the digestive system of living beings, but there are several species and can live in different areas of the intestine or migrate to other organs. Parasites in the stomach, intestine, lungs, skin, or brain cause different symptoms.

The most common symptoms are the following:

Abdominal pain

Common in almost all parasitic diseases, if the pain appears suddenly, is intense and is accompanied by constipation, it may indicate intestinal obstruction, it occurs in cases of severe infestation by Ascaris Lumbricoides (ascariacis).

Diarrhea

It is one of the most common symptoms caused by pinworms. In giardiasis, diarrhea occurs with the presence of fat in the stool (steatorrhea).

Cough and lung congestion

The life cycle of some parasites includes migration to the lungs, causing an inflammatory reaction, medically known as pulmonary eosinophilia . It presents with a dry cough, fever, chest pain, and wheezing. Ascariacis and ancylostomiasis can present with this pulmonary symptom.

Itching in the anus

It occurs frequently in pinworm infection (3), the female parasite lays eggs in the rectum and anus, which adhere to the area causing intense itching in the anus, generally at night.

Fatigue

Many parasites in the intestine feed on blood, in severe cases they cause anemia and fatigue.

Growth retardation in children

It is due to the nutritional deficiency caused by parasites in the intestine, it is usually accompanied by malnutrition.

Dysentery

Dysentery is the presence of diarrhea with mucus and blood, common in dysenteric acute amoebic colitis, and the patient may present a sensation of rectal pushing (tenesmus).

Other common symptoms

  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Gases.
  • Weightloss.
  • Hunger.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Some people may have parasites and not have any symptoms. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that children between the ages of 3 and 8 are the population most susceptible to presenting ascariacis , this disease is found throughout the world, but it occurs more frequently in the tropics and subtropics.

How to prevent intestinal parasite infestation?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after using the bathroom, preparing food, and eating.
  • Avoid raw food like fish or meat.
  • Cook the meat thoroughly.
  • It is recommended to freeze the meat 24 hours before cooking.
  • Use boiled or drinking water to wash your food.
  • Wash, peel, and cook raw vegetables or fruits.
  • Clean the surface where you prepare food.
  • Make sure your children don’t eat dirt.
  • Maintain good hygiene in your home.
  • Consume boiled or previously treated and bottled water.
  • Avoid being barefoot on dirt that may be contaminated with feces.
  • Change underwear and bedding daily if oxyurus are present.
  • When traveling to developing countries wash food before cooking with boiled or pretreated water.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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