How do doctors test for human parasites?

Written by emily patterson
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Human parasites are spread by fecal to oral contact such as through contaminated food. You are at a higher risk for getting human parasites when you practice poor hygiene, are around children and child care facilities, are immune-compromised or practice poor sanitation with food and water. Living in or visiting an area known to have parasites also puts increases the risk of getting human parasites.

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Types of Human Parasites:

Helminths and protozoa are the two types of human parasites. Helminths are visible and include parasites such as tapeworm, pinworm and roundworm. Protozoa are single-celled human parasites and multiply in the body. This allows for more serious infections to develop for the host. The most common protozoa in the U.S. are giardia and cryptosporidium.

Symptoms

Human parasites can live in the body for years without causing symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include passing a worm in the stool, diarrhoea, dysentery, abdominal pain, weight loss, bloating, feeling tired and itching around the anus. Symptoms will depend on the type of human parasite. Some types of adult parasites, such as pinworms, cannot multiply inside the body so there will be noticeable worms around the anus.

Tests:

Doctors test for human parasites differently for each of the types of parasites. Stool samples may be taken for examination under a microscope. Tape may be applied to the anus and removed to test for pinworm. A patient may need to swallow a string and the string pulled back up to examine the string so the stomach contents can be analysed. X-rays may need to be taken to diagnose conditions associated with more serious human parasites.

Drug Therapy:

Human parasites are treated with drugs after the type of parasite has been identified. It is important to finish all of the medication as prescribed to ensure that all of the parasites have been removed from the body. The doctor may also suggest the home is cleaned well to remove any eggs or parasites to prevent the return of the parasite.

Complementary Therapy

Drug therapy is the fastest way to remove human parasites. However, alternative therapies are available as complementary to drug therapy. Alternative or complementary therapies include nutrition and supplements, herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture and massage. Some complementary therapies can be used as a preventive measure or before seeking advice of a physician if you think you may have been exposed to a human parasite. However, a visit to a qualified medical practitioner is always recommended prior to starting alternative therapy for any potential medical condition.

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