Over half of all Americans will be infected with an intestinal parasite at some point in their lives. Yet, many of us do not recognize the signs and symptoms of a parasite infection because they can occur weeks or even years after the initial infection, and because a parasitic infection often mimics other similar conditions.
The most common symptoms of a parasite infection include constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, joint and muscle aches, anemia, allergies, skin conditions, tumors, nervousness, sleep disorders, teeth grinding, chronic fatigue, and immune dysfunction.
Some parasitic worms are actually large enough to physically block the passage of nutrients and waste at certain points in the digestive system. Severe parasitic infections in the bile duct or the intestines can make bowel movements difficult, leading to worsened symptoms of constipation.
Another common symptom of parasites, is the development of diarrhea, or frequent, loose, watery stools. Many parasites produce a prostaglandin that leads to a sodium and chloride loss in the body. This in turn can causes diarrhea. This process is especially true in the case of protozoan infection.
3) Gas and Bloating
Parasites that live in the upper small intestines can cause intestinal symptoms such as inflammation that leads to gas and bloating. Frequent occurrences of gas and bloating are classic signs of a parasite infection. The discomfort is aggravated by the consumption of hard to digest foods such as beans and non-organic meats.
4) Irritable Bowel Syndrome
One of the more common symptoms of parasites, is irritable bowel syndrome. It is not uncommon for IBS to be caused by an intestinal parasite, because they can dig in and attach themselves to the intestinal wall. This often causes irritation and inflammation that can in turn lead to muscle spasms, intestinal blockage, and a malabsorption of nutrients. Fatty substances in particular can be difficult to digest.
5) Joint and Muscle Aches
Intestinal parasites can also move and migrate throughout the body. It is not uncommon for them to become encysted in joint fluids or even in the muscles themselves. This causes pain, aching and irritation that are often mistaken for arthritis. Joint and muscle pain can also be caused by the body’s own immune system response to the parasite infection.
There are several types of parasites that attach themselves to the lining of the intestines and divert nutrients away from the human body. In severe infections, these parasites can lead to blood loss sufficient enough to cause anemia.
Intestinal parasites cause irritation and inflammation. This in turn can make it difficult to digest certain types of foods. The body’s response to these undigested food particles may be to produce increased levels of eosinophils, which are one of the body’s immune system defenders. These eosinophils then inflame the body’s tissue and cause an allergic reaction.
8) Skin Conditions
Intestinal parasites can cause the release of hormones and immune system defenders that can in turn irritate the skin. Hives, rashes, weeping eczema, and other allergic reactions are common with intestinal parasites. Protozoan infections can also cause ulcers, swelling, sores, lesions, and dermatitis.
The body may develop a tumor like mass in response to the parasitic infection that is also known as a granuloma. The tumor is developed to encase parasitic larvae or eggs. Granulomas most often develop in the colon or on the rectal wall, but they are also found in the lungs, liver, peritoneum, and the uterus.
Intestinal parasites release waste products and other toxic substances into the body’s system. In chronic or severe parasitic infections, these toxins may irritate the central nervous system resulting in restlessness, nervousness, and anxiety. These are all common symptoms of parasites in your body.
11) Sleep Disorders
Intestinal parasites can cause irritation that can disturb sleep patterns making it difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. In the night, the body works to eliminate toxins via the liver. Parasitic infections can interrupt this process and upset the rhythms of the body. In fact, some parasites may try to migrate out of the anus at night causing itching, discomfort, and irritation.
12) Teeth Grinding
This symptom of parasite infection can also cause a condition known as bruxism, or the abnormal grinding, clenching, and gnashing of the teeth. This condition occurs most often at night, and it may be linked to the restlessness and anxiety caused in the body by the parasite’s release of waste and other toxins.
13) Chronic Fatigue
Parasites can exhaust and deplete the body, on physical, mental, and emotional levels. It can lead to the mal-absorption of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins, draining the body of both nutrients and energy. As a result, another common symptoms is the development of chronic fatigue, with symptoms such as exhaustion, aches, apathy, depression, difficulty concentrating, and impaired cognitive ability.
14) Immune Dysfunction
Oftentimes, when you have a parasite living inside of you, it will leech vital nutrients from the body, forcing the immune system to operate with a poor supply of vitamins, minerals, and energy sources. Parasites also stimulate the production of immunoglobulin A, which is a defender against foreign substances. Over time, this over stimulation can exhaust the body’s supply of immunoglobulin A, leaving the body susceptible to attacks from bacteria, yeast, fungus, virus, and other foreign invaders.
Do Some Intestinal Parasites Have Medical Advantages?
What Causes Ringworms in Humans?
Toxoplasma, The Most Dangerous Cat Parasite
Live Whipworm Squirming Around Inside Intestines