There is this misconception in the medical community that unless you have traveled outside of the United States you likely don’t have parasites. Could the cause of your abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, itching, rash, headaches, fever, muscle aches, allergies or asthma symptoms be due to parasites? If very well could be. Generally these symptoms are present for years. I have often been questioned for ordering ova and parasite testing. Nearly every time I order this testing from the local lab I get a call asking me if the patient had recently traveled outside the country. Usually your local labs can’t find hidden parasites as their tests are not sensitive enough. So unknowingly you may have a false negative result. You are unlikely to have a false positive result.
According to a report from the University of Arizona, labs only identify parasites twenty percent of the time they are present. This is due to how samples are collected, number of stool samples, and using the wrong test to catch the parasite in a phase it can be detected. The report from the University of Arizona went on to say, “Parasites excrete toxins that can be detected in the stools. The problem? If one has one or more parasites, these toxins may not be in the stools every day. The other problem is that there are over 1,000 different parasites with only about fifty tests available to detect fifty different parasites. There are specialty parasite laboratories that have accurate methods of detecting these parasites, but your health care provider must use one of these labs.” When I use a lab that specializes in specific stool analysis testing, I often find bacterial overgrowth, yeast, and parasites. This is not a rare finding.
Approximately 1 out of 3 Americans is infected with an intestinal parasite at any given time. According to the CDC, 60 million Americans may be infected with parasites. Most of the time, your body’s immune system is able to keep the parasites in check and can clear them from the body. However if your immune system in your gut is compromised due to stress, illness, poor diet, food sensitivities and medications; this will make you more vulnerable. Furthermore, factors such as international travel, an increase importation of produce, and vectors or carriers such as contaminated pets, birds, insects, and water are also contributing to the rise, yes rise in parasites in the human population.
You might want to suspect you have a parasite if you have had any of the symptoms noted above and you have been to your health care provider and they find nothing wrong with you.
Five warning signs that may suggest you could have a parasite include:
- Chronic fatigue not resolved with rest.
- Change in frequency of bowel movement or appearance.
- Abdominal cramps or pain.
- Anal itching
- Weight loss
You do not have to have all of these warning symptoms to question whether or not you have parasites. You may have just one of them.
So how do you protect yourself and reduce your risks? Start by washing your hands. Avoid drinking water from lakes, rivers, and streams, wash your fruits and vegetables, cook your meat thoroughly, wear gloves when gardening, and if you have a cat you want to be careful how you clean the litter box and clean it often. Ultimately it means using good hygiene. You can still be infected in spite of your best efforts.
You want to be sure you eat a healthy diet as this will help keep your gut healthy and reduce your risk that these pesky bugs will want to stick around. A high fiber diet will help reduce parasites ability to hold onto the intestinal wall. A probiotic containing S. Bolardi will also discourage parasite adherence to the intestinal wall.
If you have parasites there are various ways to treat them depending on what parasite is being treated. So it is important to identify the parasite first whenever possible. Work closely with your health practitioner to help identify, monitor and treat. Treatment may include natural agents such as garlic, wormwood tea, and black walnut extract. Prescription anti-parasitics and antibiotics may also need to be used. If you suspect parasites may be what is bugging you, get tested and get tested the right way.
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA