Tapeworms: Symptoms, Treatment, How Do They Spread
Tapeworms: Symptoms, Treatment, How Do They Spread

Tapeworms: Symptoms, Treatment, How Do They Spread

By Stacey Williams
Last edited

The tapeworm is a parasite that develops in the digestive tract. It is a mild and fairly common condition that needs to be treated since the worm does not go away on its own.

What Is A Tapeworm?

The tapeworm is a parasite that develops in the human small intestine. This parasite, which can live up to 40 years, is a long worm that looks like a ribbon and can grow up to 10 metres long as an adult. The tapeworm has a flat and segmented shape and has a small head with four small suckers.

How Are Tapeworms Transmitted?

Tapeworms are spread through the consumption of beef or pork contaminated with live larvae. When a meat contaminated by a larva is not sufficiently cooked or raw, the person ingests the tapeworm larva which attaches to the wall of their small intestine. The tapeworm then grows by feeding on what the infected individual consumes. It reaches its adult size in three months and breeds by making rings. These reproductive rings are occasionally expelled from the body in the stool.

Tapeworm: What Are The Symptoms?

A person infected with a tapeworm sometimes has no symptoms. This is why it can happen years before a person realizes that they are infected. The worm can then have reached an impressive size (up to 10 metres long).

One of the most characteristic signs of a tapeworm is the presence of rings in the stool, in the underwear or in the sheets. These rings, which average 2 centimetres, are white and move. Other symptoms, which may be confused with other conditions, may also appear as decreased or increased appetite, abnormal weight loss, itching of the anus, abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue and more rarely rashes or hives.

How To Treat Tapeworms

The worm is a benign and frequent condition that must be treated to kill the parasite. The tapeworm does not disappear on its own and will continue to grow without treatment. When the diagnosis of a tapeworm is confirmed, the doctor will prescribe a pest control medicine called a dewormer. The most frequently prescribed are niclosamide and praziquantel. This is a single dose that will kill the worm. This will then be expelled from the body with the stool. Treatment may be prescribed two weeks later to ensure that the tapeworm is eliminated. After eradicating the tapeworm, it is important to take specific hygiene measures such as washing your hands regularly and washing towels, bed linen and underwear.

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