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The Enemy Within - Intestinal Parasites


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Intestinal parasites are organisms that invade the gastrointestinal tract of humans, which acts as hosts for these organisms. Protozoa, which are single celled organisms and helminths or parasitic worms, are the organisms that feed on the nutrients that are intended for the host thereby depriving the host of the nutrients. Intestinal parasites’ morbidity and mortality rates are significant especially in under developed or third world countries and in the United States as well. Example of intestinal parasites that invade people are Enterobius vermicularis, Giardia lamblia, Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus, and Entamoeba histolytica.

People can be infected by these intestinal parasites in a number of ways. The most common way is via the fecal oral route. This means that feces of the infected person via a medium such as improperly prepared food, unsafe drinking water, contaminated hands, and larva infested soil makes its way to the mouth of another person. This is then followed by ingestion of the intestinal parasite until it reaches the intestines. Proliferation occurs and disease takes place.


Not all people manifest the symptoms of being infected by intestinal parasites. Others do show symptoms. Common symptoms to watch out for during the acute phase are coughing, cramping of the abdomen, feeling of bloating, feeling of gas in the stomach, sleep disturbances and loose bowel movement or diarrhea. Symptoms that indicate severity of infection are nausea, vomiting, loss of weight, blood in stool, fever, low red blood cell count and itching of the skin. Other symptoms may also be seen and secondary manifestations, such as liver abscess or secondary infections may be present because of the effect of the disease process caused by the intestinal parasites. It is important to obtain laboratory tests that get values of the parameters in the blood that indicate intestinal parasite infection namely blood tests and stool exams. It is also diagnosed using “tape test". This process by done by getting a sample from the anal opening in the early morning using a tape and viewing the tape under the microscope. A positive result reveals ova of the intestinal parasite on the tape sample.


The best intervention for intestinal parasite infection is early prevention. Hand washing is very important in putting halt to the spread of infection and protecting oneself from the disease intestinal parasites bring. Clean hands using warm soap and water and scrub with soap for at least ten seconds and rinse thoroughly with water. This allows the organisms to be washed away if the hands are contaminated. Proper preparation and storage of food also has a big role to stop the parasites from reaching the gastrointestinal or digestive tract. Food should be cooked well and washed before cooking. Make sure that the utensils for preparing, cooking and eating food are clean.

Make sure that the drinking water is safe for drinking. When in doubt, water should boiled for one to three minutes and let cool to room temperature before drinking. It is better to drink bottled water, which has been purified and filtered. This method kills intestinal parasites and make the water safer to drink and make humans less susceptible or less vulnerable to the development of the disease.

Be sure to wear protection when coming in contact with soil such as gloves and boots or shoes. Avoid engaging in anal sex and oral sex as well as much as possible. Treatment of the disease from intestinal parasites is done by taking the drug or drugs metronidazole or choroquine. Aspiration can also be a treatment modality if liver abscess is present.

People should be meticulous in practicing proper hygiene and in placing anything in their mouths. One should be sure that the hands are clean and anything put to the mouth should be clean as well since the mouth is one of the portals of the body.

If simple proper hygiene is forgotten the effect might be devastating because forgetting to practice it leads to disease therefore makes people spend a lot of time, energy, money and experience pain and discomfort. A lot of effects when the simple thing of proper hygiene is taken for granted. Be smart and be proper. One might be saving one's life if this is put to the heart.

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