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How Do I Know if I Have Parasites?

How Do I Know if I Have Parasites?

Finding out you have a parasite can be distressing, especially when you consider the fact that parasites can lead to a variety of health problems. One of the most common signs of a parasite includes gastrointestinal issues (i.e. bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain).

However, in some cases, parasites can lead to seizures, infertility, blindness, and heart failure if left unchecked. A lot of the time, people don’t even realize that parasites could be the driving force behind the health issues they’re experiencing!

So how common are parasites? Pretty common, which means there’s a lot of information out there on how to tell if you have parasites and what you can do to get rid of them.

 

What Is a Parasite?

You can think of a parasite as that one friend who comes to visit from out of town and just doesn’t know when to leave. They lay around on your couch all day, eat all your food, and definitely overstay their welcome. That’s exactly what a parasite is! Scientifically speaking, a parasite is any organism that lives and feeds off of a host organism. Parasites are not bacteria or viruses but single celled organisms (protozoa like Blastocystis) or multi-celled organisms (worms).

Parasites fall into three primary types:

  1. Protozoa
  2. Helminths (i.e. worms)
  3. Ectoparasites

Within these three main types, you’ll find specific parasites you may have heard of like tapeworms, lice, bedbugs, Giardia, mosquitos, and scabies.

 

Where Do You Get Parasites?

Some of the most common ways to acquire a parasitic infection include:

    • Contaminated water and food
    • Not cooking your meat all the way through
    • Not cleaning off fruits or vegetables before eating them
    • Walking around without shoes and socks on so that your feet have direct contact with the floor or contaminated water sources like rivers and lakes.

You should be aware that parasites are easily transmissible. For example, someone with a parasite who doesn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom can transfer tiny parasite particles to anything they come into contact with (i.e. touching doors when entering or leaving somewhere, picking up items at the grocery store and putting them back down, etc). However, check with the CDC to see what parasites are endemic to your region or where you’ve traveled. It’s impossible for someone to transmit a parasite to you unless they are infected with one already.

 

Symptoms of a Parasite

Just how do you know if you have a parasite? Here are some common signs of parasites to look out for:

    • Gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (especially common with Blastocystis infections)
    • Problems with your skin such as rashes, itchiness, hives, or eczema
    • Feeling anxious and not being able to explain why
    • Problems falling asleep at night and not being able to stay asleep when you do
    • Traveler’s diarrhea after a recent international trip
    • Consistent joint and muscle pain
    • Feeling tired or fatigued even after a good night’s sleep
    • Depression or lack of interest in things that used to excite you
    • Frequent yeast infections
    • Itching, redness, and discomfort around the anus or genitals
    • Abnormal discharge from your genitals
    • You have iron deficiency anemia
    • Hunger that’s hard to satisfy
    • Teeth grinding during sleep
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Lymph nodes that are swollen

 

How to Test for Parasites

The one way to know if you have parasites for sure is by getting tested. There are numerous tests out there to determine whether or not you have parasites.

    • Stool test: A sample of your stool will be looked at to determine if you have a parasite. In other words, this is a “parasites in poop” test. Here at Sun Genomics, We offer a comprehensive stool test. Our Floré Gut Health Test can identify 23,000+ microbes, which includes parasites causing you issues. You can then use the custom report produced from your test to determine the foods and supplements that’ll give a boost to your health!
    • Endoscopy: Procedure that analyzes the intestine through the insertion of a tube via the throat.
    • Colonoscopy: This procedure also examines the intestines but the tube is inserted through the rectum instead of the throat.
    • Blood test: Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits all blood test that can test for every single parasitic infection there is. So when getting a blood test, your doctor will only be able to order one for the specific parasitic infection(s) they think you might have.

 

How to Get Rid of Parasites

Your results came back and it’s been determined you have a parasite. So now what do you do? Luckily, there are many treatment options at your disposal and things you can do to eliminate parasites.

 

1. Medication

Your doctor will most likely prescribe a medication that’ll help clear up your specific parasite. Some notable medications they may prescribe include mebendazole, albendazole, and pyrantel pamoate.

2. Nutrition changes

  • Cut back on simple carbohydrates such as those in processed foods
  • Limit your dairy consumption
  • Reduce your sugar intake (candida , a parasitic fungus, feeds off of sugar)
  • Eat more fiber , which helps to eliminate parasites from the body
  • Drink more water to flush parasites from your GI tract
  • Use probiotics to boost the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut and bolster your digestive tract (making an environment where it’s hard for parasites to thrive).
  • Eat more pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, papaya, carrots, coconut, beats, and cayenne which may be beneficial for getting rid of parasites.

 

 

That’s All She Wrote on Parasites, Folks!

Parasites are fairly common (you might not even realize you have them!) but they can lead to a variety of different health issues and complications if left to just run wild in your body.

Look out for signs of a parasite such as gastrointestinal issues (bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, etc), skin issues like rashes or itchiness, feeling fatigued or depressed, and unexplained weight loss. To know if you have a parasite for sure, order a comprehensive stool test, blood test, or get an endoscopy or colonoscopy done.

Once it’s determined you do have a parasite, your doctor will likely put you on medication to help clear things up. Other things you can do that are well within your control pertain to your nutrition. Cut back on processed foods and sugar, eat more fiber, drink more water, and consider taking a probiotic to boost your gut health and stave off harmful bacteria.

About the Author

Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH. When he’s not behind his computer, you can find Chad at the gym doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, or out at a game rooting on his hometown sports teams.

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