Tapeworms are parasites that can be contracted by eating uncooked meat from sick animals. While tapeworms are easy to recover from, the disease can cause serious health problems if left untreated. See your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect a tapeworm infection. You should see your doctor if you see symptoms that are characteristic of tapeworm infection.
Part 1 of 3: Symptoms
Step 1. The most common symptoms
Parasite infestation manifests itself in a variety of symptoms that are similar to other diseases, in some cases it may not appear at all, so it is difficult to confirm parasite infestation based on symptoms alone. Check out the most common symptoms of worm infestation to see if you need to see a doctor. The most common manifestations include:
- stomach ache;
- nausea and / or vomiting;
- weight loss;
- sleep disorder;
- jaundice (yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes).
Step 2. Examine the feces
One of the main ways to detect a tapeworm is to find a piece of the worm in the stool. If any elements that look like granules of white rice are found, a helminthic infestation should be suspected. These small white segments contain tapeworm eggs.
Step 3. Pay attention to your appetite
Most often, an infected person experiences a decrease in appetite, but in some cases, the appetite increases. Changes in appetite are most common in worms, which can be contracted through eating uncooked meat. Pay attention to unusual changes in appetite.
Step 4. Pay attention to the symptoms of anemia
Tapeworms that enter the human body through inadequately processed fish can cause B12-deficiency anemia because the worm interferes with the absorption of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential for the appearance of red blood cells, so a decrease in vitamin B12 causes anemia. Symptoms of B12 deficiency anemia include:
- numbness and feeling of needles in the hands and feet;
- decreased hand sensitivity (lack of sensation when touched);
- wobbly gait and difficulty walking;
- feeling awkward, stiff;
Step 5. Pay attention to the symptoms caused by the larvae of the worm
In some cases of tapeworm infestation, it happens that the larvae of these tapeworms hatch and pass through the intestinal wall to other parts of the body. Symptoms caused by worm larvae include:
- frequent, painful cough;
- temperature rise;
- allergic reactions such as wheezing, sneezing, itching, rash, swelling.
Part 2 of 3: Diagnostics
Step 1. Make an appointment with your doctor
Although tapeworms cause specific manifestations, other parasitic and viral infections must be ruled out. The doctor will do a physical exam and order the tests needed to detect the tapeworm.
Step 2. If necessary, take a stool sample for analysis
The main diagnostic method is the detection of tapeworm in the stool. Ask your doctor about the need for a stool sample.
Step 3. Take a blood test
If your stool test is negative and you have tapeworm symptoms, a blood test should be done. A blood test will show if there was a tapeworm infection.
Step 4. Complete the research
If a tapeworm is found, your doctor may order additional tests, such as CT (computed tomography), ultrasound, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), to look for lesions in other parts of the body. These research methods are painless, but they can cause some discomfort and take time.
Part 3 of 3: Treating a tapeworm infection
Step 1. Take a course of treatment to get rid of tapeworms
The doctor will write a prescription for the drug that will relieve you of the tapeworm. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. The most common treatments for tapeworm infestation are:
- praziquantel (Biltricide). This drug kills certain types of worms. The drug is contraindicated during pregnancy, lactation, allergic reactions to any of the components of the drug, with damage to the worm of the eye or while taking rifamycin;
- albendazole (nemozole). This drug prevents the emergence of young worms. The drug acts only on certain helminthic infestations, including worms that can be infected by eating pork and from infected dogs;
- nitazoxanide (Nizonide). This drug is used to treat parasitic infections that can be contracted by swimming in lakes or prolonged exposure to damp places.
Step 2. Be prepared for abdominal pain and cramps
During the period of getting rid of the worm, pain in the abdomen and cramps may occur. This is normal, but if you have severe pain, you should see your doctor.
Step 3. Make an appointment with a doctor for a follow-up visit
To make sure that you get rid of the tapeworm, you need to take a stool test again one month after treatment, and then again after three months. Check yourself and pass the necessary tests to completely make sure that there is no worm.