When people drink water or eat food that is polluted with tapeworm larvae or tapeworm eggs, tapeworm infection happen and therefore, tapeworms in humans. Ingestion of tapeworm eggs, they could spread and create cysts in almost every organ, but if you ingest tapeworm larvae, they turn into adult tapeworms in your intestines.
That kind of tapeworm has: a head, a neck and something called proglottids, which grows and produce more tapeworm eggs.
There are two kinds of tapeworm infections: invasive tapeworm infection and intestinal tapeworm infection.
Intestinal tapeworm infections are mild and invasive tapeworm infection usually cause severe problems.
Adult tapeworm, once in your body, has life expectancy up to 15 – 18 years.
Majority of people, up to 90%, don’t have tapeworm symptoms. If you really have tapeworm symptoms, they will depend on tapeworm that is in your body and where it is located.
Tapeworm symptoms, if you have mild intestinal infection are feeling nausea, weakness, pain in your stomach, diarrhea and losing of appetite followed by weight loss. However, if you have invasive infection, tapeworm symptoms could cause organ damage, which are followed by tapeworm symptoms: different kind of seizures, fevers, lumps, bacterial infections…
Tapeworm infection consequences and tapeworm symptoms are different, obviously depending on tapeworm. Intestinal tapeworm infections almost always have no complications, except when they grow and become larger, which could lead to block regular function of some of your organs.
However, invasive infections could engage some serious complications, like neurocysticercosis. This is severe complication of an invasive tapeworm infection that results in heavy headaches and problems with your eyesight, all kind of seizures, even meningitis or mild forms of dementia.
Also, if larvae grow larger, they can cause problems with organ function. Surgery could be needed in more difficult cases.
Tapeworms in humans and risk factors
If you want to avoid tapeworm infection, you have to pay attention to:
a) Your hygiene. Wash your hands and yourself regularly. It literally prevents tapeworms entering your organism.
b) Traveling in countries with low hygiene standard. Or at least, be careful; always have antibacterial wipes with you.
c) Eating raw meats, or even undercooked. You might like you food prepared that way, but it is not that smart if you want to avoid tapeworms.
If you suspect you might have any of tapeworm signs, visit your doctor. Tell him what you think, that you might have been in contact with food or water containing tapeworm. It could be smart to phone your doctor first, because he might suggest you to give him a stool sample, so he could send it to the laboratory be tested for tapeworm.
A laboratory is going to use microscope to detect tapeworm segments. If doctor asks for more samples, it just means that segments aren’t regular, and laboratory needs more samples to be sure of their decision. Often, doctor could just press a tape on your anus and have tape tested to see for traces of tapeworm.
If doctor suspects on invasive infections, he will take your blood, too, just to test it on antibodies which your body automatically created to protect itself from tapeworm infection. Do not be surprised if your doctor suggests X- ray, CT, or MRI scans.
Medications or treatment for tapeworm symptoms
Most people wont need treatment, because tapeworm will exit the body in its natural way. But if you have intestinal tapeworm infection and tapeworm signs, you will be suggested to start with medications and treatment.
Most usual oral medication recommended for tapeworms in humans is praziquantel, albendazole or nitazoxanide.
It attacks adult tapeworms and therefore, you have to be careful not to infect yourself again. It is obligatory to start washing hands after toilet and don’t start eating before you’ve washed your hands.
After you finished with medications process, your doctor will take your stool sample again, to be sure tapeworms in humans has disappeared.
As said before, treating invasive infection is determined exclusively on what part of the body is infected. Also, albendazole could be used. Doctor may suggest anti-inflammatory medication if you suffer from being swollen or inflammated. If you have seizures, anti – epileptic medications will be prescribed. Final treatment is surgery. It depends if parts of organs infected should be subjected to surgery.
Prevention for tapeworm infections
Prevention of tapeworm in humans includes, as several times mentioned before, washing of your hands before eating and after going to toilet, when you on trip, be sure to wash and cook all food before eating, cook meat at 125 F to kill tapeworm forms.