How to diagnose human intestinal parasites

Updated February 21, 2017

Intestinal parasites are organisms that live in your digestive tract in the form of worms (pinworms, tapeworms and roundworms are common in humans) or protazoa. The most common way to get intestinal parasites is through the consumption of contaminated food or water. Symptoms of intestinal parasites can mimic a number of other gastrointestinal maladies. There are several concrete ways in which doctors can diagnose human intestinal parasites.

Recognise some of the physical symptoms humans display when they have intestinal parasites. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, symptoms can include diarrhoea, vomiting, bloating, significant weight loss and fatigue (see Resources).

Make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss your gastrointestinal symptoms. A physical exam may rule out other health conditions such as appendicitis, stomach flu or irritable bowel disease.

Provide stool samples to help diagnose parasites. Some worms are visible to the eye and can be identified in a stool sample. Smaller types of parasites can be located upon examination of the fecal matter under a microscope.

Submit to a string test, a diagnostic tool that may be used to diagnose intestinal parasites. Your doctor will give you a string to swallow. When the string is brought back up from your stomach, the specimens attached to the string can point to parasites as a cause of your discomfort.

Have a tape test done in your doctor's office to determine if you have parasites. Your doctor will apply a clear tape to your anal region and then examine the tape under a microscope. If parasitic eggs are present, they will show up on the tape.

Things You'll Need

  • Physical examination
  • Fecal test
  • Tape test
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