Parasites are a common problem in tropical and subtropical regions. Diseases such as malaria, trichomoniasis, giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis, and toxoplasmosis are some of the common parasitic infections.
It might be foolhardy to think that you are safe against parasitic infections. As a matter of fact, parasites are present inside our bodies all the time and they cannot be removed completely. Having said that, it is noteworthy that all parasites are not harmful. Some parasites don’t affect their hosts noticeably, while others make their host sick along with living off of their bodily organ systems.
“Parasites that live off their hosts to survive while making their hosts sick are the ones that lead to parasitic infections.”
How To Know If You Have Parasites?
Depending upon the host and the type of parasite, symptoms may vary. Some parasites don’t give away any symptoms while others may affect the host’s health severely. These symptoms can be physical or mental, apparent to the patient.
Usually, parasites give away symptoms including digestive issues, chronic headaches, fatigue, skin rashes, and weakness. Other than this, certain symptoms can be parasite-specific. For example, Giardiasis, which is caused by a parasite called Giardia Lamblia, can cause intestinal disorders such as diarrhea, gas, greasy stools, and dehydration.
On the other hand, some parasites may not give away any symptoms, but may still affect the overall health of the host. For example, Trichomoniasis is caused by sexually transmitted parasites, which may not give away any symptoms. But they can affect the sexual behavior of the host, especially in women. These parasites can cause premature deliveries in some cases, while difficulties in the conception of babies in others.
Therefore, it is advised that for a clear idea about your parasitic infection, you should get yourself diagnosed by your doctor. Your doctor may advise you to take the benefits of a parasitic detox. But, in order to do that, your doctor may require to identify the parasite inside your body.
What Are The Types Of Parasites?
Parasites include a plethora of organisms including microscopic bacteria and viruses which are not visible to the naked eyes. Along with, the ones that can grow up to 30-40 feet in length. Nevertheless, these parasites can be broadly categorized into three types- protozoans, helminths, and ectoparasites.
These single-celled organisms live and multiply inside the host’s body. A typical example of protozoan infection is Giardiasis. Typically, protozoans can be contracted from contaminated food and water sources.
These are commonly referred to as worms and can feed in and on the host body. Helminths are multi-celled organisms such as tapeworms, roundworms, and alike. They can be guested by contacting an infected person or the excretory matter of the infected person.
Ectoparasites live outside the host body and usually feed off of the skin. Thus, the name ectoparasites. These are multi-celled organisms. Some typical examples of ectoparasites include mites, ticks, fleas, and other insects & arachnids.
Parasites can be communicated in different ways. Some parasites spread through direct contact, while others make use of carriers, or vectors to find a host. For example, protozoa that causes malaria is spread by mosquitoes when they feed off humans. Similarly, giardia lamblia spreads through contaminated water. Likewise, different parasites make use of different modes for their transmission.
To better understand how to keep your guard high against these parasites, it is important to know how these parasites can enter a host.
How Do These Parasites Spread?
Depending upon the mode of transmission, parasites can further be classified into three categories:
The parasites that travel suspended in the air, are known as air-borne parasites. Viruses that cause common flu and cold are typical examples of air-borne parasites. These parasites are transferred from one host to another in close vicinity. This is the reason, why people are usually not allowed to visit near patients suffering from common flu and cold.
Another commonly used mode of transmission by parasites is water. These parasites are referred to as water-borne parasites. E-coli, which is the most common water-borne parasite, spreads through contaminated water. It spreads when animal feces are washed away by running water and mixed with stagnant water sources such as ponds and lakes.
Some parasites make use of an intermediary host or a carrier. These carriers are usually insects, but food items and dust particles may also act as vector or mobile carriers to these parasites. A typical example of vector-borne parasites is plasmodium, which causes malaria. Some other examples of diseases caused by vector-borne parasites include dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis.
What Precautions Should You Be Taking?
As already mentioned, parasites can not be avoided completely. But, there can be several precautionary measures that can reduce the chances of acquiring one. Some of the precautions are listed below.
- Practicing safe sex, to avoid spreading of infectious parasites. This includes using a condom and other safer accessories to avoid making physical contact.
- Washing hands before and after eating a meal. Especially after handling uncooked food and animal products such as meat and dairy products.
- Cooking food properly. Nutritionists and other health experts suggest cooking food up to its optimum internal temperature. This would kill any bacteria or other parasites present in the food.
- Access to clean drinking water. Especially when traveling to tropical and subtropical regions where water-borne infections are very common.
- Avoiding water from open water sources such as lakes and ponds. These sources are often contaminated with animal feces which may give rise to water-borne infections.
- Using sanitizers and disinfectants when around infected patients or bio-active places such as hospitals.
Practicing these common habits can minimize the risk of acquiring infectious parasites. Apart from these, people with a weak immune system need to be more careful and should consult doctors about taking antibiotics, if needed.
Parasites are all around us. These tiny little creatures do not harm unless they outgrow the threshold that the human body can bear. At this note, it all depends upon personal habits and external factors that decide how a parasite affects your body. That is why it is best to consult a professional medical examiner to ensure your optimal health.