How to kill a human tapeworm

Updated March 23, 2017

People often have tapeworms without ever knowing. It's completely possible to be asymptomatic for the entire 20 year life of an intestinal tapeworm. However, the Centers for Disease Control warns that anyone with a tapeworm needs treatment anyway, because human tapeworms can trigger seizures and do neurological damage. Many people also experience fatigue, weight loss and weakness too. Besides, not many people want an up to 25 foot long worm living in their intestines or organs. Take action. In most cases, simple oral medication will kill your tapeworms, but in selected cases, surgery may be needed.

See your doctor for diagnostic tests. In order to determine the correct course of action, blood work, a fecal sample and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your internal organs will be needed. The lab tests help diagnose intestinal tapeworms, including the exact species that's invaded you. The MRI helps check for extra-intestinal tapeworm infections which result in sometimes dangerous cysts.

Take praziquantel, albendazole or nitazoxanide for intestinal tapeworms. Your doctor will determine which drug to use based on the species of worm you contracted. All three medications are highly successful at killing tapeworms. However, it doesn't target the eggs and larvae which means you can easily reinfect yourself if you don't wash your hands thoroughly after eating or using the rest room.

Return to the doctor a month for follow-up testing. You'll need to stay on your course of medications until your faeces and blood indicate no worms, larvae, eggs or pieces of worms. Some patients undergo three months of treatment.

Take medication for cysts caused by invasive or extra-intestinal tapeworm infection on various organs of the body. Albendazole is effective in killing tapeworms and shrinking some cysts. Unfortunately, it's not always enough. If the position and size of the cysts allow, doctors may choose to operate. When this isn't possible, anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure medication may be the only safe options.


Avoid raw or undercooked beef and pork. Consuming these is the most common way people become infected.

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About the Author

Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.