Tapeworm infections cause disease and are more common than we realize. This post discusses how we become infected with tapeworms, the signs and symptoms of tapeworm infections, the nutrient deficiencies and complications they cause and the best way to treat them.
What are tapeworms?
Tapeworms are flat segmented worms that infect animals and humans. There are at least six types of tapeworms which are usually identified by the types of animals they infect such as cows, pigs, fish, and dogs.
Tapeworm infections occur worldwide and their true prevalence is unknown. They can infect adults, children and infants. They often cause more significant symptoms in children.
There are three-stages in their lifecycle: the egg, the immature larva stage and the adult tapeworm. It can take 5 to 12 weeks for the larva to develop into an adult tapeworm and for some species, adult worms can live for 25 years in the body.
Animals or humans ingest tapeworm eggs which make their way to the intestines. In the intestines, the eggs hatch and develop into adult worms or penetrate the intestinal wall and then circulate to different parts of the body where they settle and develop into the larval form.
How do we become infected with tapeworms?
Humans become infected with tapeworm eggs or larvae through:
- Eating contaminated food
- Eating raw or undercooked fish, beef or pork – the immature form of the tapeworm (the larva) can infect muscle tissue
- Drinking contaminated water
- Exposure to contaminated soil
- Self-infection – poor hygiene
- Human to human contact – for instance, someone infected with the tapeworm can pass it to someone else if they’re preparing food and don’t wash their hands.
When an animal (livestock or pet) is infected with one or more tapeworms, segments of the worm or its eggs may be present in the feces of that animal and drop onto the soil. Each tapeworm segment can contain thousands of eggs.
Symptoms of tapeworms
A single tapeworm in the intestines may cause no or mild symptoms, but if several tapeworms are present in the digestive tract, moderate to severe symptoms will be experienced.
Therefore, the severity of the symptoms depends largely on the number of tapeworms present in the body. Also, immature forms of tapeworms can live in the body as larval cysts and cause serious disease.
General tapeworm symptoms include:
- Weakness – loss of strength
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, vomiting – more common in younger children
- Stomach pain – worse in the morning
- An itchy rash that appears on the skin – weals and hives
- Rectal itching
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Weight loss, malnutrition, unable to gain weight
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability and or hyperactivity in children.
Larval cyst tapeworm symptoms
The immature form of the tapeworm can form a protective shell or cyst which leads to a larval cyst infection that can occur in the central nervous system (CNS), liver, lungs, heart and/or eyes.
Neurocysticercosis is a condition in which larval cysts are present in the brain or spine. It can cause the following symptoms:
- Poor balance
- Poor coordination
- Difficulty walking and falls
- Nerve pain in the spine or limbs
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle twitches or spasms
- Changes in thinking or behaviors – confusion or loss of consciousness for even a moment.
Larval cysts in other organs
Larval cysts impact how well an organ works and can cause severe disease in the liver, lungs or heart. Symptoms can vary widely, and sometimes a lump, pain and swelling will develop where the cyst is located.
Abnormal blood work test results, deficiencies and complications of tapeworm infections
1. Vitamin B12 deficiency
A tapeworm infection can cause vitamin B12 deficiency which can result in megaloblastic anemia where red blood cells become larger than normal and cannot function properly. Without enough vitamin B12, red blood cells will not form properly in the bone marrow and this leads to below normal levels of healthy red blood cells. Because red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen throughout the body, a deficiency in red blood cells results in below normal oxygen levels in our tissues and organs.
A vitamin B 12 deficiency can result in the following abnormal blood test results:
- An abnormally high MCV (mean corpuscular volume) blood test result
- An above normal MCH (mean corpuscular hemoglobin) test result
- A higher than normal MCHC (mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration) test result
- A lower than normal hemoglobin test result
- An above normal RDW (red blood cell distribution width) blood test result.
2. Eye damage
4. Gallbladder disease
5. Intestinal obstruction
8. Severe allergic reactions – difficulty breathing, fainting, fever and a drop in blood pressure
9. Can directly or indirectly cause cancer. CLICK HERE to review a report if a 10 inch growth discovered in a Canadian woman’s liver caused by tapeworm.
- Stool test looking for ova and parasites. Collect at least 2 to 3 stool samples on different days
- Cellophane (Scotch)tape swap for eggs
- PCR DNA test
- Bloodwork looking for elevated eosinophils
- MRI or CT scan for neurocysticercosis.
- Albendazole especially for neurocysticercosis
- Vitamin B-12 supplementation
- Antiepileptic medications
- Studies have shown that taking praziquantel and albendazole together could be more effective for successfully treating neurocysticercosis then just taking albendazole alone.
Tapeworms in multiple sclerosis
Dr. Alan MacDonald found tapeworm larvae and developing tapeworms in the central nervous system of MS patients. CLICK HERE to review his research.
Tapeworms in Epilepsy
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that neurocysticercosis is a leading cause of acquired epilepsy worldwide. CLICK HERE to read more.
How to prevention becoming infected with tapeworms:
- Wash hands to prevent self-infection
- Wash fruits and vegetables that may be contaminated with segments of tapeworms or their eggs
- Improve sanitation – treat pets for parasites regularly, clean up faeces from pets in the yard, treat pets for fleas, proper sewage treatment
- Make sure meat is cooked to at least 165°F or 74°C
- Freezing meat and fish to a recommended cold temperature for a long enough period of time will decrease the presence of tapeworm larva and eggs
There are real solutions to recover from parasites today!
To restore health, we must focus on treating the cause of inflammation, which are parasites. First, identify the enemy (parasites), then support the body and treat the parasites while following a holistic approach. When parasitic infections are treated effectively, we can overcome inflammation or disease.
If you’re frustrated with the fact that our standard of care STILL doesn’t offer a real solution for treating MS and other diseases, then click on the link below to watch Pam Bartha’s free masterclass training and discover REAL solutions that have allowed Pam and many others to live free from MS and other diseases.
Clinically diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 28, Pam chose an alternative approach to recovery. Now decades later and still symptom free, she coaches others on how to treat the root cause of chronic disease, using a holistic approach. She can teach you how, too.
Pam is the author of Become a Wellness Champion and founder of Live Disease Free. She is a wellness expert, coach and speaker.
The Live Disease Free Academy has helped hundreds of Wellness Champions in over 15 countries take charge of their health and experience profound improvements in their life.