Tracy Freeman MD
A very common yet undiagnosed or misdiagnosed problem that we find in patients is parasites. They can live in the body for many years without causing symptoms and when they do, the symptoms are often subtle or vague.
Parasites can generally be divided into two groups:
- Helminthes which are multicellular parasites or worms and are most commonly found in the intestines, liver and pancreas and do not reproduce in the body. An adult worm (see photo credit CDC.gov/parasites) can range from 15-35 cm., or almost 14 inches!
- Protozoa which are single celled parasites that can infest the entire body causing serious infections. They rapidly multiply in the body. The most common in the U.S. are giardia and cryptosporidium.
Helminthes are contracted through exposure to feces, water or soil and tend to be more common in children, while protozoa can be found in food, water, insect and animal bites and contact surfaces.
Parasites are ubiquitous and difficult to diagnose without the right testing as their symptoms are vague or mimic other illnesses.
Parasite Symptoms may include: