Most Common Parasites And Their Symptoms

Parasites are microorganisms that dwell inside the human body, feeding on the host’s nutrients. Since they cannot produce their own food, they need living hosts, most commonly human beings, to survive and multiply. Some of these parasites are very harmful to human because they suck away the human host’s nutrients and produce harmful toxins, making their hosts very sick. Parasites and their symptoms depend on how severe the infection is.

You can acquire parasites everywhere.  However, some places have endemic parasite infection occurring throughout the year. It is not difficult for parasites to infect humans and some of the most common modes of being infected by parasites include:

1. Drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food, especially raw food.
2. Walking barefoot on dirty road
3. Bitten by insects like mosquitoes
4. Direct contact with infected persons like sharing utensils, shaking hands and sexual contact
5. Inhaling dusts that may contain parasite cysts or eggs
6. Contact with pet litter that contains parasite eggs

Tell-Tale Signs And Symptoms

More than 100 types of parasites can infect human. The most common species of parasites and their symptoms include:

1. Insects or arthropods do not commonly flourish in clean environment.  However, there are still instances of parasitic infections caused by these insects. Common insects that cause sickness are fleas, bedbugs, lice, mites and ticks. They usually manifest as intense itching sensation in the affected areas. Some insects like the mosquitoes could carry deadly parasites and transfer the parasites through their bites. Two deadly parasite infections caused by mosquito bites are malaria and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Infected individuals might experience high-grade fever, body weakness, vomiting, sever bleeding and even death if not treated immediately.

2. Most common intestinal parasites include pinworms, tapeworms and protozoa. They reside in the colon and lay their eggs outside the human body, usually near the anus, thus causing severe discomfort and itching in the anal area. You can get infected by these kinds of parasites when you do not wash your hands properly or came into contact with contaminated food and water. These parasites could travel within your body - from the intestines to your eyes, muscles and even to your brain. Consequently, these parasites and their symptoms like loose watery stool (sometimes with blood), abdominal pain, and severe weight loss.  Brain infection poses a threat to infected individuals.

3. Some parasites attack the human central nervous system.  They can infect their hosts through raw food or pet litter. Once you are infected by such parasites, you might experience seizure, blindness, inflammation of your eyes, coma, paralysis and miscarriage for pregnant women.
It is somewhat difficult to determine if an individual has parasitic infection because of the various symptoms and degree of severity. This is why prompt medical consultation is advised or regular visits to your health care provider could help determine and diagnose parasitic infections at an early stage.

Other than medical management and treatment, infections caused by parasites can be prevented or minimized. Here are some preventive measures you can follow:

1. Proper hand washing and good hygiene.
2. Thoroughly cook your food and avoid eating street foods
3. Avoid handling of pet litter or be licked and kissed by pets, especially those who are not regularly de-wormed
4. Apply insect repellants or wear protective clothing to prevent insect bites

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