How to Know if I have Tapeworm
Tapeworm is a parasitic worm that can can grow up to 10 metres in size and live in our digestive tract for up to 25 years, feeding on our nutrients. Once it enters the body, its head sticks to to gut wall and feeds on our food in order to grow. The worm consists of segments that fall off and are eliminated through faeces. These carry eggs and this is how they reproduce and infect other people if proper evacuation is not carried out. This OneHowTo article explains the symptoms of this so you'll be able to tell if you have tapeworm in your digestive system. It will also cover the different ways of eliminating it, if possible.
Causes of a tapeworm infection are: poor hygiene, improper disposal of faeces and consumption of raw meat or fish. Other risk factors include ingesting water that is not bottled, regularly travelling to developing countries or exposure to farm animals.
Most people feel nothing when they have tapeworm. It may take months, or even years, to realise that they have it because symptoms may be confused with any condition, or it may be a case of failing to give it enough attention. Some of the most common symptoms of tapeworm are:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
You can be sure that you have tapeworm if you see a segment of detached worm in your stool, or if you feel it being passed when you use the toilet. This happens because segments of the worm fall off from the end of the worm whilst the head section increases as it feeds and grows. The detached segments carry eggs that can then proceed to infect other people or animals if proper care is not taken. To prevent this, defecation should always take place in a toilet and never on the ground because the tapeworm can survive and continue to infect others.
In addition to those mentioned above, another symptom that can be brought about by this parasite is a feeling of tiredness and shortness of breath, both of which are signs of anaemia. One type of tapeworm is the "fish tapeworm", which absorbs vitamin B12 in the sufferer's body - responsible for creating red blood cells and thus leading to anaemia.
Another tapeworm, the "pork tapeworm", consists of larvae that incubate in the gut. The then break off and travel to the blood and affect organs in the body such as muscles, eyes and the brain, forming cysts. This condition is called cysticercosis, which can be detected by the appearance of lumps under the skin, which are cysts that form.
- If cysts are found in the eyes, vision problems may occur.
- If the cysts are located in the brain, the person may have seizures.
- If the cysts are located in the heart, arrhythmias may manifest.
- If cysts are found in the spine, the person may feel weak and experience difficulty in walking.
If you have the slightest suspicion that you are suffering from this, it is essential that you go to the doctor as soon as possible so treatment can be initiated.
In order to prevent tapeworm infection, especially in places where it is most common, such as developing countries or in rural areas, the following should be undertaken:
- Wash hands frequently, especially after using the toilet and before handling food.
- Cook all meat and fish well. Freeze meat for 24 hours before consumption in order to kill any tapeworm eggs it may contain.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them and peel them yourselves.
- Drink bottled water and other drinks. Avoid using ice and clean tins well before using them.
If you think you may have tapeworm, you will find more information on OneHowTo about how to get rid of tapeworm in humans.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Know if I have Tapeworm, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.