Tapeworms are parasites whose larvae or eggs reach our body and continue to use it as a host. When we ingest certain tapeworm eggs, these spread out around our body, creating cysts and developing into larvae, infesting organs and organ systems of our body. This kind of infection is called invasive infection. On the other hand, we can ingest tapeworm larvae where adult tapeworms are formed in our intestines, later once the larvae develop.
Tapeworms consist of a head and chain of segments called proglottids. Unobstructed, tapeworms can live up to 20 years in a body of a host causing intestinal tapeworm infection, triggering mild or severe problems or even serious health complications.
Symptoms and Signs of Tapeworm Infection
Usually, people experience no symptoms once they contract tapeworms. However, depending on the location of the larvae and the type of the infection, symptoms can vary from person to person.
Commonly, intestinal infection manifests through nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, inadequate absorption of food and loss of weight.
As for the invasive infection it results in seizures, fever, cystic masses or lumps formed in your body, allergic reactions to the larvae and bacterial infections.
How Can You Prevent Tapeworm Infection?
Since we usually get infected by these parasites through our dirty hands, proper hygiene is crucial. Therefore, you need to wash your hands with soap and water before and after your eat, use the toilet, or handle food. If you happen to travel to areas where there is a greater risk of contracting tapeworm, make sure you cook all the fruit and vegetables you eat in fresh, clean water.
If you own animals, make sure you dispose of their feces regularly and frequently. This way, you will prevent them from getting exposed to tapeworms in the first place. As for preparing meat, cook it at temperatures which are at least 125F high, in order to kill of the tapeworm eggs and larvae. Freezing the meat for at least 12 hours will have the same effect. When fish is concerned, this period should be extended to 24 hours. All in all, never eat anything undercooked and treat animals and people around you who have tapeworms timely.
Treatment for Tapeworms
Many people live with tapeworms and are not even aware of it, since they have no symptoms. Others, on the other hand, are advised to seek medical assistance as soon as they notice the symptoms, getting the adequate treatment. Upon getting to the doctor’s you will be tested for tapeworms and, if your tests are positive, you will be treated with medications, anti-inflammatory drugs or surgery.