Parasites refer to organisms that cannot produce their own food so they look for a host where they can live and depend on this for survival. These creatures can also live inside the human bodies, depending on the person’s consumption of food and nutrients in order to survive. They don’t only get the nutrients you need, they also harm tissues and cells as well as produce health-debilitating waste products.
Human parasites can be acquired through insect bites, exposure to animal feces, walking barefoot, handling raw meat and fish, eating raw or undercooked meat or fish, eating contaminated raw fruits and vegetables, eating dishes prepared by infected handlers of food, drinking contaminated water, contact or exposure with infected persons, and inhaling contaminated dust. Below, you will find a list of the most common and dangerous forms of parasites that thrive well inside the human body.
• Pinworm (enterobius follicularis) – This is one of the most common parasites in the United States that live inside the colon but lays eggs outside of the host’s body. It can be transmitted through contaminated clothes and linen as well as unclean hands. Symptoms include irritation and itchiness of the anal area.
• Hookworm (necator americanus) – This one is an intestinal parasite that develops while outside the body, usually residing in soil or water. Drinking water or eating fruits infected with hookworm larvae cause you to be infected with this parasite. It attaches itself to the human intestine, drinking up blood. You may have this parasitic infection if you experience weakness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, anemia and nausea.
• Roundworms (ascaris lumbricoides) – This parasite is scary, as it can grow as big as a size of a pencil. It’s also one of the most common parasites in the world. You can get infected by this parasite through consumption of infected fruits and vegetables or exposure to contaminated soil. This type of parasite can cause severe damage to the intestines and other vital organs of the body. Watch out for symptoms such as abdominal pain, infection, weakness and weight loss.
• Tapeworms (taenia solium, diphyllobothrium latum, and taenia saginata) – Tapeworm is very common in dogs and cats, but quite rare in humans. Pets acquire this parasite by swallowing fleas that are contaminated with the tapeworm larvae. This parasite then invades the intestines, stealing important nutrients and expelling toxic waste substances. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of tapeworm infection but in a few cases, a person would have allergies, feelings of bloating and gas, hunger pains, confused state, and digestive problems.
• Liver Fluke (clonorchis sinensis) – This one is a flat worm that attacks the liver. It makes holes into the liver and causes inflammation. It can live inside the human body for about 30 years. It is acquired through eating undercooked fish and contaminated vegetables, drinking (or swimming in) contaminated water, and being exposed to human feces. It has various symptoms but the most common are enlarged liver, depression, vertigo, bile stones, edema and pain in the right side of the body.