Just by thinking of being contaminated with a parasite gives us shivers and feelings of disgust. Imagine, a living creature, moving freely inside your body, eating from you. However, this horrendous situation is actually a reality for many people and animals. One of the solid evidence to back this statement is the ongoing report in an area of Thailand that confirmed a rough estimate of around 16% of the populace being infected by some type of parasitic contamination.
These parasitic diseases don’t just occur in countries and nations with poor health and safety concerns. They occur even in the safest countries where sanitation is not taken as a core interest. Indeed, the 'first world' nation with advanced and developed agricultural processes and food safety authorities, even the United States is vulnerable to parasites. Without a doubt, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has distinguished a few "Neglected Parasitic Infections" (NPIs) that most Americans suffer from.
Keeping in mind, not every parasite is made equal or similar like the other. While researchers can't decide the exact number of parasites that exist around us on our planet, some scientists have assessed that possibly 40% of known species on the planet are parasites that parasitize the other 60% of species. Characterized most comprehensively as a life form that has adjusted to living in or on another creature, this also includes living organisms and micro-organisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa.
Obviously, such micro organisms don't exactly have the "yuck factor" of their parasitic brethren: helminths. When a group of macroparasitic worms that live in the stomach digestive tracts of vertebrate hosts, it is called Helminth. Maybe the most known helminth, however, maybe the basic type of tapeworm. The National Institutes of Health assesses that there might be up to 300,000 distinct types of helminth.
What Exactly Are Tapeworms?
As we discussed above, a tapeworm is a sort of a parasite that lives and feeds in the stomach’s digestive tract of its host, most likely the human or the animal. "Tapeworm" is a typical term for Eucestoda, a subclass of flatworms in the ordered class called Cestoda; the different subclass is called Cestodaria. The essential contrast between these two can be recognized in the hatchlings: Eucestoda has six back snares on the scolex (the head of the tapeworm) and Cestodaria has ten snares.
There are just a couple of cestodes that normally influence people out of a huge number of species of helminth. A portion of these is ordered by the nourishments where they are found: Taenia solium, which is a pork tapeworm, Taenia saginata, which is a meat tapeworm, and Diphyllobothrium latum, which is a fish tapeworm. Some other regular tapeworms are Dipylidium caninum mostly found in dogs and Hymenolepis, mostly found in rodents.
Causes of Tapeworms
People often wonder how a person gets infected by tapeworms. As it is explained by the classification plot discussed above, the majority of the infections are caused by regularly eating half cooked or under cooked meat and fish. If an animal like pig or cow is infected by the tapeworm disease, the worms lay eggs inside them for a longer period. These tapeworm eggs (or coming about hatchlings) then gets held up in the muscle tissue of the animals. The eggs survive easily inside the tissue of the animal even after they are butchered. And with time, the tapeworm hatchlings form into completely developed grown up tapeworms. So if the meat of that animal is not cooked, processed, or prepared correctly, the parasite can easily be passed to the humans when they ingest the half-cooked meat.
One of the many strong causes for a tapeworm disease is, “human to human”. Since the tapeworm survives for a longer time in the digestive tract, its eggs can likewise be passed in the stool. And when the person who cooks the food or even touches it without washing their hands thoroughly after using the washroom, the food is most likely to get contaminated and furthermore be given to another host.
Several developed or in the process of developing nations have poor facilitation and processes of water treatments. Therefore, it ends up infecting a mass of people with certain and relevant tapeworm diseases and infections by drinking that impure contaminated water. In some cases dung from a contaminated creature enters the dirt and can then move to water sources; in such conditions, a wide range of parasites might infect the people who depend on that water.
Symptoms of Tapeworm Infections
Sadly, many people who are infected by tapeworm infections may not have many or any symptoms of the disease, and hence might be neglectful of their infection for who knows how long. Perhaps weeks, months, or even years. People who don’t experience any symptoms at all, the only way to diagnose their tapeworm infection is through testing their feces. How eerie, looking down at your stool and seeing a wriggly worm!
Nonetheless, there are some basic symptoms that do appear in general cases, particularly in the more normal intestinal infections, for example taeniasis, causing from eating infected and diseased meat:
• Appetite loss
• Decreased absorption of nutrition in food
• Loss in weight
• Pain in the abdomen
• Restlessness, fatigue, and weakness
• Craving for salty intakes
The eggs laid by the tapeworms can form into hatchlings and become portable in some of the cases. The hatchlings can relocate out of the digestive tract to different parts of the body when the eggs become mobile. If the hatchlings become implanted somewhere else and form a cyst, it is considered to be one of the deadliest situations. This can influence the muscles, eyes, skin, or different organs, normally bringing about harm to the tissue where they structure, and thus the condition is called cysticercosis.
In some of the most exceptionally uncommon cases, the cysts can sometimes shape in the brain itself. This condition can be distinguished by cerebral pains or an assortment of other neurological conditions like seizures, known as neurocysticercosis. It can likewise become fatal or perilous.
Tapeworms Cure and Treatment
Contingent upon the seriousness of the condition and whether the hatchlings have relocated out of the digestive tract, there are several treatments and medicines available for tapeworm infections. The doctor or care physician may demand a feces test to search for indications of the tapeworm or a blood test if no signs are available.
As most of the tapeworm cases are gentle and non-perilous, the doctor will mostly recommend an oral prescription to manage the issue. One of the most well-known meds is praziquantel, a substance that basically deadens the tapeworm inside your gut. When the drug shows its effect on the tapeworm, it smoothly discharges itself from the wall of the intestine and easily comes out in the stool. This course of medicine is viable in 95% of patients and ordinarily takes 1-3 months to be completely settled.
For the uncommon cases of cysticercosis, the anti-inflammatory drug is endorsed to lessen the swelling that the presence of the cysts has caused in the body’s various tissues. This might be joined with anthelmintic medications used to shrivel the cysts and growths. Sometimes even surgeries are suggested as a choice in organs where the fear of permanent damage is suspected by the cysts.
More radical measures might be fundamental in circumstances where patients have created neurocysticercosis. Surgery is an alternative to eliminate the cyst depending upon where it is found. Some conditions also require using a shunt to empty abundance liquid out from the cyst that wouldn't in any case be safe to eliminate.
When To Visit The Specialist?
The question is when do you see a doctor concerning your health and how would you know if it is alarming enough to be concerned of? Chances are, if you are like most of the people, who have the tapeworm, you might just never know about it and it may even resolve itself after some time. But cases where people are encountering even the slightest of the tapeworm infection’s symptoms, that are mentioned above, it is highly recommended to visit the doctor whenever you experience changes in your bowel habits or if any symptom persists longer than a couple of days.
It is recommended to be particularly attentive and observant if you may experience any of the stomach related symptoms including strange lumps on the skin, severe headaches, or different indications of a neurological issue. All of the symptoms combined may show obtrusive disease and cysticercosis, while uncommon symptoms are to be taken seriously and be shown to the doctor as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, your staff is usually trying to teach your patients to know about changes in your everyday GI propensities. If the symptoms appear for a day or two and then everything is normal again, it is nothing to be concerned about. However, if the symptoms and changes are persistent, or worsen the condition, it is an ideal opportunity to visit the doctor for a checkup.
Read more about tapeworms