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Intestinal Parasites: Everyone Thinks It Happens Only in Third World Countries

So did you land on this page because you think that maybe you have an infection of intestinal parasites? Well don't be surprised to learn that as many as 85% of the world's population are infected and most commonly with intestinal parasites.

In terms of numbers there are more parasitic infections acquired in this country than in Africa.

Dr. Frank Nova, Chief of the Laboratory for Parasitic Diseases of the National Institute of Health.

Dr Marcelle Pick of Portland Maine reports that as many as 40% of her patients presenting with symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome actually have intestinal parasites. In fact, intestinal parasites cause the same symptoms as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Unfortunately, many doctors refuse to consider the possibility of intestinal parasites as the cause of IBS symptoms. Furthermore, the treatments for IBS do not get rid of intestinal parasites and have other significant side effects.

What are the Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites?

There are a wide variety of intestinal parasites and other than a general malaise, some parasites can survive for years without producing any real symptoms. Many other intestinal parasites produce common symptoms.

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas or bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach pain, tenderness
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath
  • Grinding teeth
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Anal itching
  • Worm passes in your stool
  • Anemia

Laboratory Tests Used to Diagnose Bug Infections Commonly Miss the Existence of Intestinal Parasites!

It is a common misconception that infections caused by intestinal parasites are rare in affluent countries. This is a fallacy. As many as 50% of Americans are infected with intestinal parasites. A wide range of intestinal parasites infest all societies and in Western countries where we have the luxury of laboratory testing these infestations are too often misdiagnosed due to the deficiencies of lab methods and the ignorance of doctors. In an earlier era when we lived life closer to the land and farming was more organic a regular cleanse specifically for intestinal parasites with natural remedies was an accepted healthcare practice. Somewhere along the way modern medicine and sanitation practices persuade us that we are not susceptible to intestinal parasites. Parasites and their eggs can be picked up from anywhere. A handshake, a kiss, undercooked meat, raw fish, contaminated drinking water, freshwater swimming, our pets.

Why is Infection by Intestinal Parasites on the Rise?

Infections by intestinal parasites are on the rise for a variety of reasons. Giardia is now endemic in North America wildlife and is infesting lakes and streams. A crystal clear wilderness stream may look pristine but fresh water is no longer safe to drink without boiling.

The natural behaviour of children to play in the dirt and put their dirty fingers in their mouth almost guarantee an infection by intestinal parasites at some point in their young lives. When the children get infected so do the parents.

Our environmental conditions including contaminated water, pollution and overuse of pharmaceutical drugs not to mention poor diet decrease our immunity to intestinal parasites.

We Travel More and Bring Parasites Home

We travel more often and to more countries where water supplies are contaminated by intestinal parasites and where produce is grown without strong regulations that prevent the use of contaminated fertilizers. Poor sanitation and hygiene also accounts for the contamination of cafe and restaurant food in these countries. We arrive home with intestinal parasites. And as more of our produce are imported from these same developing countries we ingest the intestinal parasites right at home.

We Rely More and More On Prepared Foods

We get intestinal parasites because we rely more often on prepared foods relinquishing control over kitchen sanitation. Food packers and restaurants are staffed by new immigrants from these same developing countries. They do not possess modern sanitation habits nor are they as well educated about the need for good personal hygiene when handling foods.

Why Should You Be Worried about Intestinal Parasites?

Parasites live on or in the body of other creatures. Intestinal parasites in particular consume the nutrients of their host and in fact they may start to eat the host. In the case of human parasites they typically reside in your stomach but they can migrate to other areas such as your nose, ears, brain or your liver. In addition to robbing you of precious nutrients intestinal parasites release toxins that make you feel sluggish and will eventually make you sick. In some cases intestinal parasites that have moved to the brain (such as tapeworms) die off and the decaying remains can cause an immune response such as inflammation, resulting in frightening seizures (neurocysticercosis).

How Do You Prevent an Infection of Intestinal Parasites?

Clean water, modern sanitation methods and good personal hygiene habits are the key to preventing hand-to-mouth intestinal parasites from invading your body. Always wash your hands after using the toilet, changing a diaper or coming in contact with any material that may be contaminated by animal or human fecal, the typical source for the eggs of intestinal parasites.

Wash Your Produce

Produce should be thoroughly washed and peeled, especially since it is increasingly imported from the developing countries and more likely to be contaminated by intestinal parasites due to poor farming regulations. Look for any cracks or decay spots on produce and cut these away as they may harbour parasites.

Don't Go Barefoot, Wear Gloves in the Garden, Beware of Contaminated Water!

The bloodsucking hookworm typically enters your body through bare feet.

Some parasites can enter your body through your skin so wear gloves and shoes when working in or with soil and do not go barefoot especially in tropical countries.

Beware of swimming in contaminated waters and when traveling make sure your drinking water is pure. In tropical developing countries drink only bottled water unless you know the water is pure or has been properly boiled. And if the water is not pure the ice won't be pure and some intestinal parasites can survive a freezing. So forget the ice! And do not drink coffee or teas unless they are steaming when served.

Do not eat produce that has not been cooked unless you are absolutely sure it has been properly washed with good water. Even produce that has been peeled may be suspect if the preparation of the food does not coincide with appropriate sanitation methods and personal hygiene. Modern habits are sorely lacking in developing countries. If you prepare fruit and vegetables yourself make sure you wash first and then peel. Do not eat unpeeled fruit or vegetables unless washed with soap and water. And be wary of eating meat that is not throughly cooked.

Thus, wise advice for travelers is to "cook it, boil it, peel it, or forget it" when eating in developing areas.

Merck Manual of Medical Information, Second Home Edition, Chapter 196, Parasitic Infections.

Prevent Insect Bites, Especially in the Tropics!

Many parasitic diseases are transmitted through insect bites especially in the tropics. When it comes to some of these diseases prevention is often the only cure. You must adamantly guard against insect bites, not only mosquitoes, but also fleas, lice, ticks, mites and various flies including sandflies.

There are also dietary steps you can take to prevent intestinal parasites from taking hold. There are a wide variety of foods, herbs and spices that prohibit the growth of intestinal parasites. (Visit our books page for references.)

The Treatment of Infections by Intestinal Parasites

Herbal remedies coupled with a cleanse is the natural approach to treating an infection of intestinal parasites. There are a wide variety of choices and it can be as simple as taking a few drops of an herbal tincture before a meal. The important thing to know about an intestinal parasite cleanse is that it is not an overnight process. You will need to cleanse for several weeks in order to ensure that both adult parasites and developing offspring are destroyed. The cleansing agent that kills adult parasites will not necessarily eradicate the cysts or eggs. You must follow a cleansing process for an extended period of time so that both adults and emerging offspring are killed or the life cycle of intestinal parasites will simply begin again!

Learn more about specific intestinal parasites and natural treatments.

Learn about two of the most common parasite infections pinworms and giardia lamblia.

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