Tapeworms – Causes and Treatment

tapeworm


Tapeworms, or cestodes, are intestinal parasites; they are worms that are flattened like a tape measure. A tapeworm cannot live freely on its own – it survives within the gut (intestine) of an animal, including a human.

Tapeworms are parasites that infest the intestinal tract of human beings. The body of a tapeworm has three divisions, namely the head, neck and body.

The body portion is made up of numerous segments. Tapeworms use their heads to attach themselves to the lining of the intestine. After they do that, they derive their nourishment from the human being who is known as the host. Tapeworm infestation also takes place in animals as well.

These tapeworms wreck havoc in the body as they cause infections which are often life-threatening. Such infections are accompanied by many agonising symptoms. The body of the host becomes weak, as many vital nutrients are forcibly extracted by these parasites.

Diphyllobothriasis

This disease is caused by the consumption of fish that has not been cooked for a sufficient amount of time. This is due to the fact that many raw fishes contain the larvae of tapeworms. In cases where these fishes are not cooked well, the larvae are not destroyed. They enter into the digestive tract of the people who consume such fish. They cause the person to suffer from a severe case of anemia. This gives rise to the problem of weakness and fatigue. The person also becomes deficient in vitamin B12.

Cysticercosis

This infection occurs due to an infestation of those tapeworms which are present in pork. The main reason for this infection is the consumption of pork which has not been cooked for a sufficient amount of time. Due to this, the tapeworms are not completely destroyed and they get an opportunity to infest the intestinal area. This infection comes along with numerous symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, giddiness and seizures.

In certain cases, this infection might cause the build-up of fluid in the brain of the host. This can threaten the life of the person. Cysticercosis can be treated with the help of medicines that target the symptoms of this condition. The doctors target the seizures first. After this, they prescribe medication that causes the destruction of any tapeworms in the body.

Hymenolepiasis

This infection is one of the most common tapeworm infections. The tapeworm which causes this infection is also known as the dwarf tapeworm. It is most common in those places where there is a lack of hygienic facilities. In such places, the surroundings become an ideal place for these worms. The worms hatch their eggs there.

When human beings come in contact with such surroundings or when they ingest food that has been kept in such places, the eggs enter into the body. Drinking water from such unhygienic places can also result in a tapeworm infestation. The eggs hatch and many hundreds of worms infest the body. These dwarf tapeworms attach themselves to the lining of the intestine and derive their nourishment from the host.

This infection does not have any major symptoms and this is why many cases of hymenolepiasis go unnoticed by the patients. In certain rare cases, the person might have symptoms such as headaches, nausea and weakness. In such cases, the doctor prescribes medication that destroys the dwarf tapeworms.

Romilia