Published: 11/08/2014 - Updated: 05/18/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Parasites are colonies of animals that live at the expense of other living beings. The survive in the digestive intestines and compete to consume nutrients and food consumed by the host. Parasites are usually different sizes, from microscopic to larger, like those that measure several centimeters or even meters long.
Causes of intestinal parasites
- A deficient or weak immune system which could be due to a careless diet with excess junk food or excessive tension, pressure, or emotional depression.
- Poor hygiene, either personal or while preparing foods, as well as the area in which foods are prepared or consumed.
- Eating infected foods.
- Not washing your hands before eating or after going to the bathroom.
- A low-quality diet that lacks essential nutrients.
- Walking barefoot in infected areas.
- Dependency or a strong attachment to people is one emotional factor that could cause a lot of confusion and emotional pain. This greatly weakens the immune system and could lead to parasite infection.
There are several types of intestinal parasites
Protozoas or amoebas
Transmitted primarily by consuming water and/or foods that have been contaminated by an infected person’s excrement. Amoebas live in the large intestine and can invade and even damage the internal layers of the intestinal mucosa. This could cause ulcers or perforations. Amoebas can make it to orther organs like the lungs, liver, or brain because they are equipped with a powerful group of enzymes that they can use to pass through tissues.
General symptoms for amebiasis:
General weakness, headaches, abdominal cramping, diarrhea with mucus and blood.
Appears primarily in organisms with a weak immune system or people that suffer from AIDS or those that have received a transplant of some sort. Infection symptoms consists of diarrhea, which could lead to nutritional exhaustion. Contagion causes are the same as those previously mentioned.
Another microscopic parasite which survives in the small intestine and is also transmitted through contaminated water or foods that have been infected with fecal material from a diseased individual. It causes symptoms like diarrhea, generally in smaller children. This parasite could cause an infection known as giardiasis which does not present any symptoms and could go unnoticed, causing temporary intestinal disorders. In severe cases, it could cause frequent yellow diarrhea, with foam and a foul-smelling odor, like vomit, flatulence, and abdominal distension. If it is very acute or severe, it could affect child development and could also impede correct nutrient absorption.
Parasitic worms or intestinal worms
Ancylostoma (Ancylostoma duodenale):
Feeds on the host’s blood and adheres to intestinal walls. It is generally found in moist land and generally enters the body through barefoot skin. Once entering the body it is transported by the blood to the digestive tract, where it lives, develops, and multiplies. Ancylostoma cause growth and mental retardation in children, and in rare cases causes death.
The human whipworm (Trichuris trichura):
This type of thin worm stays in the large intestine and can measure anywhere between three and five centimeters. It dives into the intestines with one of its ends, destroying the lining, which causes abdominal pain and diarrhea with frequent bloody stools. The force caused by so many bowel movements causes the rectum to be pushed out the anus.
These are worms than can measure between 20 and 30 cm in length. They are long and round, pink or white in color, which makes them visible in fecal material. They live in the small intestine and feed on the host’s partially digested food or intestinal cells. They cause symptoms like abdominal pain, general weakness, tooth grinding, drooling while sleeping, abdominal inflammation, body itching, very liquid bowel movements with mucus ad worms. A female worm could produce up to 26 million eggs, producing up to 200 thousand a day.
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Pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis):
They primarily attack children. They are thin worms that can measure up to one centimeter in length. They live and develop in the large intestine at night. While the host sleeps, the female lays her eggs either in the anus or the genitals whereby they then propagate to bedding or the infected individual’s hands. They can then be passed to food and personal objects. Symptoms of this type of parasite include itching, abdominal pain, tooth grinding, insomnia, and bad moods.
Tapeworm (Taenia solium):
Transmitted by consuming poorly cooked pork that has cysticercosis. It is a flat worm that sticks to the small intestine with suckers located on its head. Tapeworms can measure up to three meters in length and have a lifespan of up to 25 years. Once they arrive at the intestine and develop, they could produce 300 thousand eggs a day. During larvae stage they can make their way toward the brain and cause neurocysticercosis, a fatal condition. Tapeworm symptoms include general weakness, pale coloring, lack of appetite, diarrhea with visible worm fragments.
Preventing intestinal parasites
- Keeping good personal hygiene: washing your hands before preparing foods and keeping the area tidy where you prepare your food, as well as utensils. You should wash your hands also after changing a baby’s diaper or going to the bathroom.
- Keeping a healthy diet so that the defense system is strong and can therefore prevent contagions from any route. A diet high in vitamin C and A, avoiding junk foods, or foods that are sugary, refined, fried or processed.
- You should boil your water or opt for bottled water.
- Disinfect all fruits and vegetables very well.
- Avoid walking barefoot in public areas, or areas that are dirty or moist, like bathroom floors.
Natural treatment for intestinal parasites
If you do have intestinal parasites, you must take action as soon as possible. In addition to maintaining good personal hygiene, the individual must follow a detox diet to dislodge the parasites.
- A recommended diet for youth or adults is to eat only pineapple and two medium garlic cloves – one before breakfast and another at midday – for two or three days. During those days you must drink two liters of fresh water with lemon drops. You should also drink parsley infusions with herbal tea throughout the day, in addition to the two liters of water. You should follow this diet strictly in order to weaken the parasites and to cleanse the eggs out of the intestines. If you have a lot of diarrhea, you should drink two glasses of rice water which can be counted in the two liters of water a day. Once you have finished the diet, you should continue to eat the garlic before breakfast and slowly start adding foods. Avoid consuming refined flour and sugar, cow’s milk, red and fried meats. Continue to drink two liters of fresh water and eat raw vegetables that have been disinfected. You should rest at home if you experience weakness, until you have dislodged the parasites.
- For children, you should give them fresh garlic before breakfast. To get them to eat them, you will need to mash them well and add a few drops of lemon to them. You should explain to the child why they should eat the garlic. You should also offer them a diet free of refined pastries, eggs, junk food or sugary foods, which only makes the intestinal parasites stick around. If they have diarrhea, offer them rice milk three or four times a day, and teach them to have good hygiene. It is also very important that the child eats at home, with foods that have been hygienically prepared.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 05/18/2018
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