Intestinal parasites are living species that live inside a living organism (host), feeding on its nutrients. These parasites reach inside the body by air, water or food.
To multiply, intestinal parasites feed on both the nutrients in the foods consumed and the mucosa of the area where they are established. Although they can be found anywhere in the human body, the intestine is the ideal environment for the development and multiplication of parasites.
There are over one thousand intestinal parasites living in the human body – some are very small, microscopic, and others can be seen with the naked eye. Intestinal parasites release toxins into the blood, reducing the body’s resistance to disease, so they not only cause illness but also aggravate existing conditions.
There are 2 types of intestinal parasites:
Helminths – pluricelular organisms, such as: tiniile, oxyuria, limbii. Helminths are a few millimeters in length at a few feet and feed on their intestine or blood in the intestinal walls.
Protozoa – unicellular organisms such as lamblia giardia, cryptosporidium, blastocystis hominis and microsporidia. They multiply within the body and often appear among HIV / AIDS patients.
Intestinal parasites end up in the body because of the adoption of poor hygiene because of sexual behavior or can be transmitted by pathogens (mosquitoes).
Signs and symptoms
Intestinal parasites can survive in the digestive tract for years without causing any symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- abdominal pain;
- bloating and intestinal gas;
- dysentery (removal of blood and mucus seats);
- itchy itching;
- stomach ache;
- fatigue and drowsiness;
- weight loss;
- elimination of faecal matter parasites;
- lack of appetite;
- food allergies or sensitivity;
- Iron deficiency.
Children Specific Symptoms:
- the appearance of vesicles inside the lower lip;
- restlessness during the night;
- tooth scarring during the night;
- headache, light sensitivity, eyelid convulsions;
- gingival, nasal, rectal bleeding;
- anal itching, inflammation of the vagina in girls.
Worms and intestinal parasites are the result of the following factors:
- eating contaminated food and water;
- consumption of raw or poorly prepared meat;
- poor body hygiene, especially inappropriate handwashing;
- miserable living conditions;
- frequent trips in poor or developing countries where poor sanitary conditions exist;
- direct contact with a person with intestinal parasites;
- age – children and the elderly are predisposed to this type of infection;
- a weakened immune system;
- HIV infection or AIDS.
Classification of intestinal parasites
The main parasites that affect the human body are protozoa and helminths (so-called “intestinal worms”). The latter are classified into: trematoda, cestoda and nematoda.
• Helminths (“intestinal worms”)
Are multicellular organisms with a length from a few millimeters to a few meters, which feed on blood from the intestinal contents or intestinal walls. They are classified into:
1. Nematode (roundworm):
Ascaris lumbricoides (limb): is the largest intestinal worm, reaching up to 35 cm in length and in thickness is just like a pencil. The disease caused by infection with this parasite is called ascaridosis.
Enterobius vermicularis (oxiuria): is an acciform whiteworm that measures up to 2 cm and its larvae cause anal pruritus. The disease caused by this parasite is called oxyurosis.
Necator americanus, Ancylostoma duodenale (worms): are commonly found in tropical areas and measure up to 2 cm in length. Once in the intestines, they feed on the blood in the intestinal walls. The disease caused by these intestinal worms is called anchilostomiasis.
Dracunculus medinensis or Guinea worm: is a filigree-like parasite that measures 60-100 cm in maturity. The affliction is called dracunculosis.
Trichuris trichiura (whitish worm): the adult female measures about 35-50 mm in length, and the male approximately 30-45 mm. The challenge is called trichocephalosis.
Strongyloides stercoralis: is in the small intestinal worm that causes the disease called strongylidiasis.
Trichinella spiralis: contamination is by the consumption of infected pig meat. The main symptoms are: abdominal pain, muscle aches, swelling of the eyes and rash. The disease is trichinosis.
Schistosoma mansoni: this parasite has a length of less than 2 cm and a thickness of 1 mm. Adult parasites live in intestinal veins, and eggs are deposited in the intestines. The challenge is called schistosomiasis, and diagnosis involves identifying oocytes from urine and feces. Infections caused by this parasite occur mainly in Africa, the Middle East and South America.
3. Cestoda (tenia)
Taenia saginata: It is transmitted by beef intake. The parasite can reach a length of more than 20 m.
Taenia solium: It is transmitted by pork intake.
Diphyllobotrium latum, the agent of botriocephalosis: it is transmitted by ingestion of freshwater fish. It can reach a length of 10 m.
Hymenolepis nana, responsible for hymenopterosis: Frequent parasitism in children, is a small tooth transmitted by insect ingestion (persimmons, flocks of worms) or, in particular, worms in tropical countries.
The disease caused by tenia infection is called tensia (ribbon). Taenia salt can also cause cysticercosis.
They are unicellular inferior microscopic organisms (with the simplest anatomical structure) capable of multiplying within the body. Orally (water or contaminated food) or oral. The most common protozoa: Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium (crypto), Toxoplasma gondii (toxoplasmosis) etc. These can cause inflammation of the intestines, thus preventing the absorption of nutrients.
– Giardia lamblia (Giardia intestinalis): a parasite found in two forms: cyst (it is in the form of a closed bag in which the parasite is transported safely through food and water from one person to another. It is not destroyed by gastric juice and is found in feces) and trophosoid (parasite the duodenum and the small intestine). The disease caused by this parasite is called giardiasis.
– Blastocystis hominis: is a polymorph of the colon, with fungi and protozoar characters, of round shape with varied sizes between 2 and 20 microns. As a rule, infection is asymptomatic; in symptomatic cases, patients experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and rectal bleeding. The disease caused by this intestinal parasite is called blastocytosis.
– Cryptosporidium: is a microscopic parasite that is found in water. Common symptoms: diarrhea, abdominal cramps, stomach discomfort, bloating. The disease caused by the infection with this parasite is called cryptosporidiosis.
When foods are not digested properly, they are in a semi-digestive state in the intestines. Then the “good” bacteria gather in the intestine to help with the digestion process. A common side effect of this fermentation process is the formation of intestinal gas.
Future gastrointestinal disorders can lead to bowel irritation due to food intolerance or other irritants, causing irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, or diarrhea.
The diagnosis can be suspected after multiple bloating and prolonged diarrhea and is confirmed with the following medical tests:
1. Examination of faeces
As a rule, this test is false negative because of this must be done in 3 different days. It is useful for identifying helminths and protozoa. Take the feces sample before administering anti-diarrheal or antibiotic drugs, and before performing the barium (x-ray) exam.
To identify the presence of blood in faeces.
3. Blood tests
To determine the level of hemoglobin, IgE antibodies and ferritin in the body.
4. Computed tomography or biopsy
For the discovery of cysts from the liver, lungs or brain.
5. Scotch test for identification of oysters
It consists of applying a piece of transparent adhesive (Scotch) paper to a skin or mucous lesion (anal margin in case of suspicion of oxychorrhagia). The scotch is then attached to a glass blade and examined under a microscope in the laboratory.
6. Barium Examination
Barium x-rays to diagnose serious diseases caused by intestinal parasites. Barium sulphate is an opaque metallic salt for X-rays. This test is usually not necessary.
The treating physician must determine exactly what type of parasite invaded the body before prescribing a treatment.
As a rule, intestinal parasite treatment is easy; but the disorder reappears shortly if the source of the infection still exists. Anti-parasitic drugs such as Metronidazole, Tinidazole or Furazolidone are effective for treating parasitic infections if given as prescribed by the medical prescription.
A single dose of antiparasitic drugs is sufficient for killing intestinal parasites. For several days after healing, it is possible to remove larvae and eggs from parasites through the stool. Untreated infestations may occur for years.
Alternative and complementary therapy
Common medical treatments help eliminate intestinal parasites in less time and with fewer side effects than alternative treatments. Alternative treatments are effective when given concomitantly with conventional medicines.
Nutrition and nutritional supplements
1. Avoid simple carbohydrates such as exotic foods, fruits, juices, dairy products, sugars, except honey.
2. Eat raw garlic, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, beets and carrots. According to the studies, a mixture made from honey and papaya seeds helps eliminate intestinal parasites in 23 out of 30 participants in the study.
3. Adopt a diet rich in fiber because it helps eliminate intestinal parasites.
4. Probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Bifidobacteria) help maintain digestive health.
5. Digestive enzymes contribute to the restoration of the intestinal tract to the normal state. Papain is an enzyme found in papaya that kills intestinal parasites when given 30 minutes before or after a meal.
6. Vitamin C (250 – 500 mg, twice a day) helps stimulate the immune system.
7. Zinc (20-30 mg daily) contributes to improving the immune system.
8. Reduce the consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
Medicinal plants are an effective way to strengthen and tonify body systems. These are found as dry extract (capsules, powder, tea), glycerin (glycerin extract) or tinctures. Most plants used to treat intestinal parasites have toxic side effects and may interfere with drug treatment; therefore it is recommended to administer it only under the supervision of a qualified physician.
1. In the morning, on empty stomach, eat red.
2. Commonly use blueberries, papaya, pineapple as they contain anti-parasitic enzymes.
3. Eat garlic at each meal because it helps kill the parasites from the intestinal tract.
4. Prepare a mixture of pumpkin seeds, onion and soy milk.
5. Mix 2 teaspoons of apple vinegar in a glass of water to prevent intestinal parasites.
6. Herbal remedies work best on the naked stomach – tincture of garlic, pumpkin or pomegranate seeds.