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Although having parasites is unpleasant, parasites are more common than you might think. We’re actually seeing a few cases of them at Westchester Health. Not limited to underdeveloped countries, parasites exist worldwide and can infect anyone of any race, gender, or socioeconomic status. They can cause a number of symptoms, few of which affect the digestive tract, but the good news is that they can be treated.

What is a parasite?

A parasite is any organism that lives and feeds on another organism. Examples of parasites include:

round worm
bed bugs
Parasites come in so many different shapes and sizes that they can cause a wide range of problems. Some eat your food (inside your body) so you are hungry after every meal and unable to gain weight. Others feed on red blood cells and cause anemia. Some lay eggs, which can cause itching, irritation, and even insomnia.

How do you get parasites?
There are several ways that parasites can be transmitted. Here are the most common reasons:

contaminated food and water
undercooked meat
polluted water
impure or contaminated fruits and vegetables
lower leg
Once a person is infected with the parasite, it is very easy to transmit it. If you have the parasite and don’t wash your hands after using the toilet, you can easily transfer microscopic eggs to bathroom door handles, salt shakers, cell phones, or anything else you touch. Traveling abroad is another way to introduce foreign parasites into your system. Also, it is very easy to get parasites when dealing with animals.

10 Signs You May Have Parasites
Symptoms of the parasite are usually caused by toxins released into the human bloodstream. Here are the most common symptoms:

Unexplained constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, or other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
You traveled internationally and contracted diarrhea on your trip
You’ve got food poisoning and your digestion isn’t what it used to be
You can’t fall asleep or wake up many times during the night

Skin irritation or unexplained rash, urticaria, rosacea or eczema
You grind your teeth in your sleep
Muscle or joint aches and pains
Fatigue, fatigue, mood swings, depression or persistent apathy
You never feel satisfied or full after eating
You have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia
How to check for parasites
The best way to detect the parasite is to get a stool test. Most doctors do a stool test when they suspect a parasite.Treatment options
Drug treatment. The doctor will choose the most effective medicine for your parasite. You may only need one dose or you may need to take the medicine for several weeks. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as directed, or it won’t help.
Complementary and alternative therapies. Conventional medical treatments kill parasites faster and with fewer side effects than other treatments. However, alternative treatments can be helpful alongside traditional medications. However, before starting treatment, your doctor must find out what type of organism is causing your problem.
Dietary guidelines to avoid developing parasites:
Avoid simple carbohydrates such as refined foods, fruits, juices, dairy products, and all sugars except honey.
Raw garlic, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, beets, and carrots are used to kill parasites.
Drink plenty of water to cleanse your body.
Eat fiber to help get rid of worms.
Probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Saccharomyces boulardii and bifidobacteria) can help keep your digestive tract healthy, but may not be suitable for some immunocompromised patients.
Digestive enzymes help restore the intestinal tract to a state that makes it impossible for parasites to survive.
Vitamin C supports the immune system. If diarrhea occurs, reduce the dose.

Zinc supports the immune system, but it interacts with some medications, especially some antibiotics, and is not suitable for people with HIV/AIDS.
Herbs are an effective way to strengthen the body’s systems. As with any treatment, check with your doctor before starting treatment. You can get the herb as a dried extract (capsule, powder, or tea), glycerite (glycerin extract), or tincture (alcohol extract).
Worried you might have parasites? Please come and meet.
If you experience any of the above symptoms and think you may have parasites, please call (914) 232-1919 to schedule an appointment with one of our Westchester Health gastroenterologists. The sooner we can diagnose the parasite, determine what type of parasite you have and start treating it, the sooner you will start to get better. Whenever and wherever you need us, we are here for you.

Eli M. Abemayor, MD, a gastroenterologist at Westchester Medical Center and a member of Physician Partners at Westchester Health.

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