While it may be disturbing to learn that a variety of intestinal parasites can affect humans, discover the answer to the most common question “can parasites kill you?”
More than 100 million Americans are suffering from illnesses related to stomach parasites, but they have no idea what’s causing their symptoms.
Do you suspect that you have a parasite? Do you have questions like “what are parasites?” or “can intestinal parasites kill you?”
If you said “yes” to either or both of those questions, keep reading. Explained below is everything you need to know about parasites in the stomach, what causes them, and how to get rid of them and prevent them from returning.
What Are Intestinal Parasites?
Parasites live inside other organisms and rely on their host for nourishment. In the case of intestinal parasites, the parasite takes up residence in your digestive tract.
Some people are under the impression that parasitic infections only affect those who live in developing nations. In reality, though, anyone can experience this type of infection.
There are several types of intestinal parasites that are common in the U.S. and other developed countries, including the following:
- E. vermicularis;
- G. lamblia;
- A. duodenale and N. americanus;
- E. histolytica.
These parasites can contribute to a wide range of illnesses if they go unchecked for too long. Some common infections include Giardia, Trichomoniasis, Cryptosporidiosis, and Toxoplasmosis.
How Do You Get Parasites?
There are lots of ways that a person can develop a parasitic infection. Some well-known causes of these issues include:
1. Poor Hygiene
Poor hygiene practices increase one’s likelihood of being exposed to a parasite. This can include poor hygiene when handling food, soil, or anything else that may be contaminated.
2. Exposure To Contaminated Water
Speaking of contamination, food and soil aren’t the only potential points of exposure. Swimming in, bathing in, or drinking contaminated water can also expose you to parasites.
3. Travel To Certain Regions
Traveling to certain parts of the world may also increase your risk of developing a parasitic infection. This is especially true if you travel to areas that are known for having unclean drinking water.
4. Exposure To Fecal Matter
If you work in childcare or work with fertilized soil on a regular basis, chances are you come in contact with fecal matter more often than others. This, in turn, can make you more prone to parasite exposure.
5. Exposure To Animals
Being exposed to infected animals will also increase your chances of infection.
Cats can be especially parasite-prone since they often come in contact with other infected animals like birds and rodents.
What Problems Can Parasites Cause?
If you develop a parasitic infection, you could experience a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Here are some common symptoms associated with parasite exposure:
- Itching, redness, and/or irritation to the skin.
- Digestive issues like diarrhea, cramps, gas, nausea, and vomiting.
- Dehydration and weight loss (from persistent vomiting or diarrhea).
- Flu-like symptoms (muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, etc.).
It’s important to note, too, that some parasitic infections do not cause any immediate symptoms. They can lie dormant for quite a while, and symptoms can seem to appear out of nowhere.
Can Parasites Kill You?
It’s rare for a parasite itself to kill you. This is because you are the parasite’s host and it relies on you to survive.
That being said, parasites can contribute to a wide range of diseases, many of which have the potential to be fatal if they go untreated for too long.
That’s why it’s important to seek medical care as soon as you suspect you have a parasitic infection. This will help you get the treatment you need before the infection can spread and cause serious, life-threatening problems.
How To Get Rid Of Parasites
Okay, you can see now that parasites are a pretty serious issue. How do you get rid of them, though?
It can definitely be tricky to eliminate parasites, but the following practices have been shown to be effective:
There are certain medications that can get rid of some parasitic infections, such as Giardia and Trichomoniasis. Your doctor will likely prescribe these drugs to help clear out the infection as quickly as possible.
2. Dietary Changes
Many people experience relief when they change their diet, too. By eliminating foods that parasites feed on, such as sugar, alcohol, and grains, you may be able to “starve out” the parasites and get rid of them.
Adding in foods like garlic and those that are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as B vitamins, can also be effective.
Certain supplements may help those dealing with parasitic infections as well. This includes things like berberine (a compound found in several different herbs) and wormwood.
How To Prevent Parasites From Coming Back
Once you’ve rid your body of parasites, you’ll want to do whatever you can to keep them away. The following practices can help you prevent future parasitic infections:
1. Practice Good Hygiene
Wash your hands thoroughly on a regular basis. This is especially important when you’ve had contact with fecal matter or other potential contaminants.
2. Drink Clean Water
Always make sure your drinking water is clean and has been purified. When you’re traveling to foreign countries, take extra care to ensure it’s safe.
3. Avoid Exposure To Certain Animals
Try to avoid being exposed to certain animals, especially cats, that may have parasitic infections that could get transferred to you. This is especially important for pregnant women.
Do You Think You Have Intestinal Parasites?
Now that you know more about intestinal parasites, do you think you have a parasite? Are you worried about how you’re going to get rid of it?
The answer to the question “can intestinal parasites kill you?” is a tricky one, and the answer depends on the type of parasite you’re dealing with and how severe your symptoms are.
Regardless of the specific issues you’re experiencing, you still ought to see a doctor as soon as possible to find out whether a parasite really is to blame. The sooner you get to the root of the issue, the sooner you can begin to heal.
Do you want to learn more about other lesser-known health problems that could be causing your symptoms? Check out the Health section of our site today to read some other helpful and informative articles.