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Internal Healing

Understanding the Dangers of Parasites

It’s long been reported that intestinal parasites and the diseases that they cause are rare or otherwise hard to come by. However, this is far from the truth. Unfortunately, these “bugs” (in every sense of the word) can be extremely common, with most of them directly affecting your gastrointestinal tract.

Some of the most common parasites are helminths, a term that refers to worms like tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms. These complex creatures often act fast, causing symptoms to manifest within days or even months.

The other side of the spectrum is protozoa, tiny one-celled organisms that often take a long time to manifest symptoms. In fact, they can sometimes lay dormant for years before causing a range of problems related to autoimmune activation, inflammation, and immune impairment.

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How You Become Infected

Internal parasites are devious creatures, hiding in your system for months or years at a time. They are also tricky in the ways that they infect your body. Some of the most common vectors include the following:

  • Swimming – Many parasites thrive in water, and even chlorinated pools can’t always kill them all off. That said, rivers and lakes are ideal places to pick up dangerous parasites.
  • Food – Not properly cooking meats and seafood or properly washing produce can provide easy exposure to parasites.
  • Nursing Care – If you change diapers or provide bathing for either adults or children, it puts you at an increased risk of exposure.
  • Contaminated Water – Well water and even public drinking water in developing countries can easily be contaminated with parasites.
  • Outdoor Activities – Hiking, camping, and horseback riding are all situations in which you can come into contact with parasites.

Symptoms of Parasitic Infection

It’s important to understand that different types of parasites cause different reactions in the infected person. In a lot of cases, these reactions may go undetected or present themselves as completely unrelated diseases. Below, we’ll list some of the most common symptoms related to parasites.

  • Gastrointestinal Issues (Diarrhea, Nausea, Bloating)
  • Weight Loss & Poor Nutrient Absorption
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Anemia
  • Joint Pain & Arthritis
  • Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
  • Fever
  • Inflammation

deadliest parasites

Common Intestinal Parasites

Most helminth parasites are fairly well-known. Protozoa, on the other hand, are typically much less understood especially given the sheer number of types out there. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common protozoan infections we see in our Spring, Texas offices.

  • Cryptosporidium – This is a parasite usually found in farm animals that often spreads via contaminated water sources. It is resistant to chlorine and thrives in public pools and water parks. Symptoms typically start two to ten days after infection and include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and more. Infection is also more common in people who are already immunocompromised by something like Lyme Disease, which is also common in Texas.
  • Blastocystis – One of the most common of all intestinal protozoan parasites, Blastocystis has been linked to chronic diseases like IBS and Chronic Fatigue Syndromes as well as less permanent reactions. There are many strains, and not all of them cause noticeable symptoms at first. However, this is problematic because people will often go years or longer without seeking aid.
  • Giardia Lamblia – Another water-loving, chlorine-resistant microbe, Giardia Lamblia lives in the small intestine, where it causes a wide range of symptoms ranging from nausea and diarrhea to gas, bloating, and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, it can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and chronic conditions like IBS, leaky gut, and CFS.
  • Iodamoeba Bütschlii / Entamoeba Histolytica – These are amoebas that often affect the immunocompromised and the elderly. Symptoms typically include abdominal cramping and diarrhea, but when left unchecked, these parasites can take up residence in the liver, brain, lungs, and spleen, doing serious damage and forming painful abscesses.
  • Toxoplasma Gondii – Perhaps the most recognizable of all the names on this list, toxoplasma gondii has affected about 1/3 of all United States adults at some point in their lives. Common sources include contaminated drinking water, undercooked meat, and cat stool. Though not everyone exposed becomes infected, the parasite can cause serious problems such as headaches, vision changes, and seizures.

parasites

Treating Intestinal Parasite Infection at Internal Healing and Wellness MD

One of the reasons why we always recommend professional assistance when a parasitic infection is suspected is because each type of parasite requires a different type of treatment. Fortunately, blood tests and fecal samples can be used to detect both helminths and protozoa, allowing us to easily create a treatment plan around your specific health needs.

At Internal Healing and Wellness MD, we have treated people from all over Spring, The Woodlands, Conroe, and the rest of Greater Houston with special diets designed to fight intestinal parasites and restore the stability of your microbiome. Examples include foods rich in probiotics and Vitamin C, as well as garlic, beetroot, carrots, and papaya seeds, all of which have anti-parasitic qualities.

So if you’re experiencing symptoms of parasite infection or have a chronic disease that you can’t seem to pin down, we can help.