Stomach Parasites: Do You Have Them?If you asked most non-health conscious people about parasites, they'd probably shrug and insist it's something that happens to otherpeople, in othercountries – but certainlynot to them, in their country. Unfortunately, parasites are not just a problem in the developing world. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden, parasites are "more common in the US than people realize." (1) According to the CDC, more than 60 million people in the United States have a chronic toxoplasma gandii infection. That's just one of many stomach parasites – and it affects 60 million people in the United States alone. Now consider the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of parasite species out there. So, do you have parasites? To put it mildly, the odds are not in your favor. What's more, parasites could be to blame for your sugar cravings, which highlights the importance of doing a sugar detox.
Why Should You Care About Stomach Parasites?Even in light of these statistics, many people may find it in themselves to shrug and say, "oh well – out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to parasites. But the problems with parasites go well beyond the "ick" factor of having a bunch of creepy-crawlies roaming around inside you. Stomach parasites can cause serious health problems. These include:
- Digestive issues
- Endless hunger
- Mood disorders like anxiety
- Yeast infections
- Itchiness around the vagina and/or anus
Types Of Stomach ParasitesWe can break stomach parasites into two different categories. The first is helminths, which are actual worms that live in your intestinal tract. They can grow up to a whopping 35 feet long and lay millions upon millions of eggs per day. (2) Helminth parasites contribute to long-term, severe symptoms. Then there are protozoan parasites, which are single-celled. These may not be as nasty-looking but they can cause some pretty gross immediate effects, including explosive diarrhea and severe dehydration. Obviously, we won't be able to cover all the different species of stomach parasites in this article. We will, however, look at the most common ones, starting with...
AmebiasisAmebiasis, or amebic dysentery, is among the most common parasitic infections in the world. (3) In fact, according to the World Health Organization, infections transmitted from contaminated soil, such as amebiasis, are among the most common worldwide. (4) Left untreated, amebiasis can cause a range of symptoms, from bloody diarrhea to severe ulcerative colitis. The stomach parasite can also spread to other organs – including the liver, lungs, and brain – and cause severe damage. People in developing countries can bring amebiasis home with them if they travel to tropical areas that have other than the Best Ever sanitary conditions. In such environments, amebiasis can live in food and even ice. (5) Even if you don't visit a tropical area, you can still catch amebiasis if you are frequently in places with poor sanitary conditions. According to the CDC, men who have sexual intercourse are also at an increased risk of catching amebiasis. Only about 10% to 20% of people who get infected with amebiasis show physical signs of sickness that are enough to warrant concern. Even then, it can take 2 to 4 weeks for symptoms to show themselves, by which point it may be hard to figure out exactly what is causing the illness. A natural parasite cleanse may help you get rid of amebiasis, as well as some of the other types of parasites on this list.
TapewormsWhen most of us think of parasites, we probably think of tapeworms. Tapeworm infections can happen anywhere in the world, with some types being more common in places where people eat raw beef. (6) Tapeworms are truly nasty creatures. Even the smallest two varieties can grow up to three meters long, while the largest variety can grow up to 10 meters. Some types of tapeworm infections can result in cysticerosis, a serious disease that can cause seizures and eye damage. (7) Eating improperly-cooked pork and beef, as well as visiting unsanitary places where people do not dispose of feces properly, increase your risk of developing a tapeworm infection. Your best bet here: consider a vegetarian or Mediterranean diet. Some proponents of colon hydrotherapy believe that the practice can help clear toxins from your body that may be conducive to stomach parasites like tapeworms.
Read: How To Get Rid Of Tapeworms.
HookwormHookworm infections spread through human feces that contains its eggs. Infections can happen when you walk barefoot on soil that contains hookworm-infested feces as fertilizer. You can also catch hookworm by eating unwashed produced that came into contact with contaminated soil. (8) If the hookworm larvae enters through your skin, it can work its way into your bloodstream and lymphatic system. From there, it ends up in your lungs, where you can cough them up and ingest them properly. Once you've ingested the hookworm larvae (which can also happen if you eat produce contaminated by it), the grown worms will attach themselves to your intestines. The worms will then drain nutrients from your blood, which can cause anemia in some people. Hookworms can live up to two years and release thousands of eggs inside you. Following a colon cleanse protocol can help you get rid of toxins that make your intestines a safe haven for icky parasites.
WhipwormWhipworm is the last of the helminth-style stomach parasites we'll be exploring here. The CDC estimates that as many as 785 million people around the world have whipworm infections, representing a major burden on health systems worldwide. (9) Whipworm is another stomach parasite that thrives in contaminated soil. Patients come into contact with whipworm by either handling the contaminated soil itself or consuming produce that was grown in that soil. Whipworm can cause anemia, painful and bloody stools, as well as rectal prolapse, which is when the rectum loses its attachment to your insides and turns "inside out," which is every bit as unpleasant as it sounds.
Protozoan ParasitesAs mentioned earlier, protozoan parasites are not worms but rather single-celled organisms. Protozoan parasites that are infectious to humans include these: (10)
- Watery, very foul smelling explosive diarrhea
- Abdominal cramps
- Weight loss
Stomach Parasites: How To Get Rid Of ThemWhile stomach parasites can cause significant damage to your health, the good news is that you can also treat them fairly easily. If you suspect you might have parasites (and, truth be told, statistics indicate that at least some of you reading this do), begin by ensuring you're following some habits that will prevent more of the buggers from making a home in your body. Here are some habits to include day-to-day: (12)
- Avoiding raw fish (yes, that includes sushi!)
- Thoroughly cook any meat (better yet, avoid meat
- Keep your pets pest-free and don't get pet kisses
- Wash and peel all produce before eating it
- Walking barefoot is great for grounding but may lead to parasites