Having intestinal parasites can be a scary thought. However, you are not alone! The idea that intestinal parasites only exist in underdeveloped countries is a myth. In fact, I often saw them in my clients with thyroid and autoimmune disease.
What is an Intestinal Parasite?
A parasite is any organism that lives and feeds off of another organism. Intestinal parasites are tiny. Usually, they are parasitic worms that feed off the material in your body.
Some examples of intestinal parasites include tapeworms, roundworms, pinworms, whipworms, and hookworms. Intestinal parasites come in many forms, so they can cause a wide range of parasite symptoms.
Some intestinal parasites consume your food, leaving you hungry after every meal and unable to gain weight. Others feed off your red blood cells, causing anemia. Some lay eggs that can cause itching, irritability, and insomnia.
If you have tried to repair your gut and relieve your symptoms without success, an intestinal parasite could be the underlying cause.
How Do You Get Intestinal Parasites?
There are a number of ways to contract a parasite. Undercooked meat and raw fish and contaminated fruits and vegetables (especially those you usually eat raw) are common culprits.
Swimming in lakes, ponds, or creeks can also lead to a parasitic infection. It is also very easy to contract a parasite when handling animals. Some parasites can even enter the body through the bottom of your feet — there is more to it than what you eat!
Once a person is infected with an intestinal parasite, it is easy to pass it along. If you have an intestinal parasite and do not wash your hands after using the restroom, you can easily pass tiny parasite eggs onto anything you touch — the door handle, the salt shaker, your phone, or other people.
10 Intestinal Parasite Symptoms
There are MANY different types of parasites that lead to a wide range of parasite symptoms. Parasite symptoms can often appear unrelated and unexplained. The 10 most common parasite symptoms include:
Iron-deficiency anemia is a common parasite symptom due to blood loss through stool and the parasite’s consumption of blood tissue.
2. Appetite/Satiety Changes
Never feeling satisfied or full after your meals, especially combined with weight loss is another common parasite symptom. As worms in humans feed at the same time as their host, it may cause extreme hunger. Nausea, gas, and reduced hunger levels are also signs of parasites.
Grinding your teeth in your sleep, also known as bruxism, can be a problem as the intestinal parasite infection leads to anxiety and sleep disturbances.
4. Digestive Woes
Fatigue, exhaustion, depression, or frequent feelings of apathy are not only symptoms of parasites, they may also be caused by possible malnutrition and anemia.
6. Joint and Muscle Pain
Pain or aching in your muscles or joints can be intestinal parasite symptoms. That’s because intestinal parasites invade joints, and also excrete toxins that cause inflammation, negatively impacting body function and movement.
7. Past Food Poisoning
A history of food poisoning and a feeling that “your digestion just hasn’t been the same since” are common parasite symptoms.
8. Skin Issues
Skin irritations or an unexplained rash, hives, rosacea, or eczema can be parasite symptoms as some host-parasite interactions remain in the top skin layers.
9. Sleep Problems
Trouble falling asleep or waking up multiple times during the night is a parasite symptom as certain parasites cause physical discomfort or alter your circadian rhythm.
10. Traveler’s Diarrhea
Traveling internationally and getting traveler’s diarrhea while abroad is a major parasite symptom.
Additionally, toxins that intestinal parasites release into the bloodstream can also lead to anxiety because they can interact with your neurotransmitters or blood cells, leading to mood swings. Other symptoms of the toxins that intestinal parasites release include trouble sleeping, skin irritations, and muscle pain.