Although the chances of contracting a parasite for most Americans are slim, those who live in areas with poor sanitation or who travel extensively may be at risk. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), the two most common types of intestinal parasites in humans are helminths and protozoa. Helminths, which have many cells, include tapeworms, pinworms, and roundworms. Protozoa have only one cell, but can multiply in the human body. Symptoms of infection present as problems in the intestinal tract and in your stool.
Pain and Swelling
Parasites within your dietary tract often present as pain within your abdominal or lower stomach regions. This pain is often the result of unseen gas or bloating within your gastrointestinal tract, says the UMMC. Depending on your diet, this pain may seen normal at first, so focus on how long the pain lasts or if it does not go away. If the pain does not subside within a few hours, seek medical attention immediately.
Any extended, noticeable upset in your stomach can point to the existence of parasites. Regular vomiting, diarrhea, mucus in your stool, loose bowel movements or long-term nausea are all potential symptoms of a parasite’s existence, states the Center for Traditional Medicine. Specifically note if your upset stomach persists over an extended period of time, and if it continues for more than a few days, consult your physician immediately.
An at-home visual examination of your stool can reveal the existence of some parasites. You may not see the parasites after every movement, so make sure to inspect your stool after multiple bowel movements. Specifically, you should be looking for the existence of any worm-like creature in your stool. If you notice one in your stool, visit your doctor immediately so she can test your stool to determine what kind of parasite you have.
Easy to Miss
A few of the potential symptoms can easily be attributed to other health conditions or just misunderstood as part of your normal physiology. For instance, headaches, a rise in your fever, weight loss or arthritis can all be treated separately; you may not even know to look for these symptoms together, says the Center for Traditional Medicine. Pay special attention to these symptoms if they occur together, last much longer than you are accustomed to or feel more severe than normal.