Parasites live off their host (you) and have the potential to cause damage such as inflammation and leaky gut. Parasites are passed around through contaminated food and water, day care centres, foreign travel, mosquitoes, pests, pets, and sexual interactions. If there are symptoms, they are usually diarrhea, mucus, blood in the stool, fever, irregular bowel movement, and stomach pain. Parasites can also cause joint pain, skin rashes, allergic reactions, a weakened immune system, and fatigue. Symptomatic infections are generally self-limited and almost half of the time bear no sign of infection at all. It is possible to have re-occurrence of symptoms or develop long-term complications.
Parasitic infection has higher risk in tropical countries, impoverished areas and areas where there is untreated water or ice from lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, or shallow wells. Those with diarrhea should not swim during infection and for at least two weeks after to avoid waterborne transmission to others and human and animal waste that contaminates watersheds also increases risk through direct contact or by use of water for agricultural purposes. As with protecting oneself from other infectious agents, it is important to maintain good hand hygiene, clean and disinfect home environments and child care facilities, and monitor water quality in private wells.
- Abdominal cramps
- Greasy stools
- Bloating or gas
- Weight loss
- Fifty percent of infections are asymptomatic, meaning no symptoms at all.
Diagnostics can include blood tests, genetic (PCR) and microscopic of fecal (stool) samples. When stool samples don’t reveal the cause of diarrhea, a scope may be inserted from mouth down (endoscopy) or bottom up (colonscopy) to examine the tissue of the intestine. X-rays can reveal lesions caused by some parasitic infections.
In North America, Giardia duodenalis is the most common cause of intestinal parasite infection. Cryptosporidium infection is also prevalent. Other types of domestic parasitic infections include Chaga’s disease, neurocysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxomplamosis, and trichomoniasis. More information can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/npi/index.html
Parasites can live in cell form, where they have active nutrient needs, or cyst form, where they hibernate to survive harsh environments or simply a part of their life cycle. Some parasites lay eggs, while others live young. Worms, a type of parasite can produce up to 200,000 offspring a day.
The cyclic nature of parasites demands an intermittent antimicrobial protocol. For example, one that is 15 days on, 5 days off, 15 days on again and repeated a number of cycles. Still, eradication can be challenging and requires patience, perseverance and professional guidance. This post is for educational purposes and is not medical advice. Antimicrobials commonly effective in eradicating parasites include carefully combined sources of wormwood, grapefruit seed extract, garlic, carvacrol from cloves and oregano oil, quassia, Podophyllum peltatum (Mandrake), sage and black walnut. Dose, timing and duration is critical and needs to be medically supervised. Initial identification through a multi-day comprehensive stool analysis will help target treatment. IgE blood levels, if elevated at time of infection, can help monitor treatment as levels are expected to normalize (go down) as the parasite is eradicated.
Infection and further disease
High frequency of parasites found in type 2 diabetes emphasizes the importance of periodic parasitical examinations in these individuals. Parasites are also closely associated with oropharyngeal carcinoma.
In addition to bacterial and viral infection, inflammatory disorders (such as inflammatory bowel disease and chronic pancreatitis), toxins (i.e. alcohol and tobacco), metabolic conditions (diabetes, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and a number of genetic disorders, parasitic infections such as hepatitis B and C and liver flukes increase cholangiocarcinoma (biliary tree cancer) risk.
Nearly 20% of all cancers are attributable to pathogenic organisms through malignant transformation, chronic inflammation and a trigger of indefinite cell creation. It is estimated that more than half of these are from DNA viruses. A small percentage are linked to parasites, as mentioned in the few, but not extensive examples above.
If you experience unexplained chronic inflammatory conditions, unreasonable growth of cells, ongoing diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, itchiness, irritability, fever – especially after traveling, or general feeling of being unwell, it is a good idea to rule out the possibility of parasitic infection.
More in this episode of Create Your Holistic Lifestyle Show:
https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/references_resources/diagnosis.html. Accessed Aug 3, 2022.
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