Do You Have a Parasite Inside You? What to Look For Advises Dr. Oz
Are you among the estimated one-in-three who has a parasite inside them that is going undetected? According to Dr. Oz, you could be unknowingly suffering from a parasitic infection resulting in a health issue that your doctor may be misdiagnosing while a parasite destroys your body from the inside out.
“Would you know if parasites were making you sick?” asks Dr. Oz as he warns viewers that feelings of constant fatigue and bloating could be due to a parasite that has literally wormed its way inside your body.
As an example of how parasites can affect your health Dr. Oz introduces his guest “Melissa” who states that she lost two years of her life to parasitic infections because her doctors failed to properly diagnose her condition. Melissa told viewers that it began the morning after eating at a restaurant the night before that she came down with extreme nausea and diarrhea that she initially attributed to a case of food poisoning. However, for the next two years she was plagued with fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and blurred vision that a succession of 10 physicians was unable to properly diagnose the cause of her ill health.
It wasn’t until Melissa came across a physician who authored a book on parasites that she was able to arrive at a possibility that her previous physicians had not considered as the cause of her constant illness. In fact, recent research has attributed some cases of chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome to parasitic infections.
Dr. Oz showed viewers images of not one, but two different types of parasites that had been the cause of Melissa’s problems—the common hookworm and an amoeba called Dientamobae fragilis.
However, Dr. Oz tells viewers that other parasites abound such as:
• Trichinella that comes from uncooked meat and can cause severe muscle pain.
• Whipworm that comes from unsanitary conditions and prevents nutrients from getting into your body through the G.I. tract resulting in fatigue and diarrhea.
• Tapeworm that comes from undercooked food and also results in fatigue and sudden weight loss.
Dr. Oz tells viewers that even if you do not travel to exotic lands where people typically associate the risk of parasitic infections, that you can contract a parasite in your own home by any one of the following ways:
• Water that is not properly sanitized.
• Beef (up to 20%) from other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Honduras and Mexico.
• Fish (up to 80%) from other countries such as Chile, Argentina, China and Indonesia.
“Parasites are a lot more common in these countries than in the U.S. and the USDA only inspects 9% of the meat and less than 2% of the seafood imported from overseas…so if your meat or fish originates from overseas, how can you be sure that it is parasite free? You can’t! There’s no way to be sure,” says Dr. Oz.
In addition to food from other countries, your pet can cause parasite infections according to one study that warns that a cat in the house may be killing your family and even be a cause of depression due to parasite transfer.
Dr. Oz introduced Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, an integrative medicine specialist who tells Dr. Oz that the problem of detecting parasitic infections in patients lies in the fact that during their medical school training doctors are not taught to think of parasite infections when treating a patient who does not travel to other countries.
“We are not trained to think of parasites as an American illness. We are trained to think of it only if maybe somebody has traveled to a foreign country or has relocated back to the U.S.” says Dr. Bhatia.
Another problem Dr. Bhatia points out is that conventional stool testing will fail to detect parasites if the patient is not actively shedding parasites through his or her G.I. tract when a fecal sample is collected for testing under a microscope. This, she states, contributes to why misdiagnoses occur so often due to false negative test results even when a physician looks for evidence of parasites.
To help viewers determine whether they may have a parasitic infection, Dr. Bhatia offers the following signs and symptoms to watch for as well as what you should do if you think you might be carrying a parasite, and provides some natural solutions that will help fight your infection:
Signs and Symptoms of a Parasitic Infection
• Changes in Your Stool: If you have diarrhea that lasts for two weeks or longer then this is a sign that you are carrying a parasite in you.
• Chronic Fatigue: If you have fatigue that is unrelenting—even after you’ve had a good night’s sleep—Dr. Bhatia states that you may want to consider that the fatigue could be due to a parasite.
• Unexplained Weight Loss: “Losing about 10 pounds over a two-month period is a common sign of a parasite infection,” says Dr. Bhatia.
• Anal Itch: If you have itching around the anus that has been going on for two weeks and no sign of a rash then it could be due to a parasite infection.
• Abdominal Pain and Cramping: If you experience constant abdominal pain and cramping non-related to a menstrual cycle, Dr. Bhatia warns that it could be due to parasitic infection.
What to Do if You Believe You Might Have a Parasitic Infection
• Talk to your doctor about using newer stool tests for parasites that are more sensitive, some of which actually detect the DNA of parasites.
• Seek a specialist such as a gastroenterologist who will be more knowledgeable about parasitic infections than a general physician. Or, seek a Holistic Medicine practitioner who will be open to the possibility of parasites as a cause of illness.
• Bring a timeline of your symptoms when you see a physician to give them more and accurate information to work with toward a diagnosis.
• Bring a 3-day recall list of what you ate prior to your symptoms.
• Bring a list of all your medications and supplements--particularly if you have been taking antibiotics.
Natural Solutions to Treat a Parasite Infection
Dr. Bhatia states that there are some natural solutions for treating a parasitic infection that are successful about 75% of the time. And even if a natural solution does not rid the body of the infection, it can help lessen the affects. Examples include:
• Garlic―eating two garlic cloves a day can actually help kill off some parasites that cause abdominal pain and cramping.
• Wormwood Tea―drinking wormwood tea is one of the strongest natural remedies for treating a parasitic infection. However, wormwood tea can be dangerous to your health and should be limited to 3 cups per day for no more than 10 days.
• Black Walnut Extract—take Black Walnut extract for parasitic infection that causes constipation at a dose of 1,000 mg, 3 times per day, for only up to 6 weeks.
For a list of foods that fight parasites, click-on the titled link, “12 Foods that May Fight Intestinal Parasites.”
Advice for Foreign Travel
If you do travel to foreign countries and return home and find yourself coming down with something shortly after, follow this recommended advice on what to do when a fever strikes after returning from a vacation.