Parasites are organisms that live off other organisms known as hosts. These tiny organisms can cause a lot of harm to the host organism, ranging from uncomfortable annoyance such as head lice to much more complicated diseases and even death if undiagnosed and untreated. Parasitic infections can occur anywhere in the body, and they can be life-threatening. Diagnosis is key to managing the disease, but recognizing the symptoms early on is essential. Here are ten early symptoms to watch out for:
1. Stomach Pain and Digestive Issues
Stomach pain is a common early sign of parasitic infections if that pesky critter is feasting in the intestines. Parasites also release by-products that can result in abdominal inflammation, gas, and indigestion. Diarrhea or constipation may also occur.
2. Anal Itching
If you have an itchy anus that disturbs your sleep and can be embarrassing, then this may be a sign of infection with parasites such as pinworms. These tiny worms lay their eggs on the skin around the anus, which causes itching.
Constant fatigue is another symptom of parasitic infections as they devour nutrients and minerals that the host needs. Since the host organism’s body is working hard to fight off the parasite, this takes a lot of energy, resulting in tiredness, body weakness, and lethargy.
4. Unexplained Weight Loss
Parasites can also lead to quick, unexplained weight loss, even if the host is consuming the same amount of food as usual. Since parasites consume essential nutrients and minerals from their host, the host body becomes depleted of essential nutrients and resources. This often results in unwanted weight loss.
5. Anxiety and Irritability
Studies have linked parasitic infections with depression and anxiety. Parasites can produce waste products that cause inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. This can result in symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and teeth grinding.
6. Anemia and Muscle Pain
Parasites can lead to anemia as they rob iron from the host for their own needs, which leads to muscle pain, lethargy, and joint inflammation. Anemia can also cause tenderness, soreness, and cramps in muscles and joints.
7. Skin Irritation
Finally, parasites can cause the skin to become red and irritated, resulting in inflammation or a rash. Infestations such as scabies can cause intense itching and significantly impact the victim’s quality of life. Other skin reactions to parasitic infections include stunted hair and nail growth.
8. Headaches and Fever
In some cases, parasitic infections can also cause headaches and fever. While these symptoms can also be indicative of other illness, along with other symptoms in this list, it can help alert you to the possibility of parasitic infection.
9. Allergies, Asthma, and Chronic Respiratory Illness
Some studies have associated parasitic infections with allergies, asthma, and chronic respiratory illness. Since parasites release toxic by-products that travel through the bloodstream, they may activate the immune system, resulting in chronic inflammation, which can increase the risk of developing allergies or respiratory illnesses.
10. Compromised Immune System
Lastly, parasitic infections can also compromise the immune system. As the parasites weaken the body, the host’s ability to fight off infections and diseases reduces, which makes them more vulnerable to other forms of illnesses and infections, especially if left untreated.
A parasitic infection can occur anywhere, and symptoms may vary from person to person. If you show any of the above symptoms, you may have a parasitic infection, or there may be other underlying issues. It is essential to discuss these symptoms with your health care provider, especially if you have been traveling to areas where parasitic diseases are common. With early diagnosis and treatment, parasitic infections are generally treatable and manageable.