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Beware of Parasites!

Filed under: Health & Nutrition |
Different types of Parasites

Different types of Parasites

By Eric Chisala

You wake up with feelings of nausea. You tire more quickly. Your stomach is slightly swollen. Symptoms of pregnancy? Maybe. Since Zambia lies in a tropical part of the world, the problem could very well be some form of intestinal parasite.

What are intestinal parasites, and how can you tell if you are playing host to these unwanted guests?

Simply put, a parasite is a living organism that obtains some benefit from its host, a living organism on or in which it lives. Two types of intestinal parasites are protozoans, which include amoebas, and helminthes, or worms. The degree of damage to the host depends on the type and number of parasites present and the age and health of the host.

Some common symptoms of intestinal parasites are abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, a swollen abdomen, fatigue, and chronic indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation. Weight loss, restless sleep, itching, wheezing, and fever may also be indications of parasites. Of course, these symptoms can be indicative of a number of illnesses. But parasites can be diagnosed by means of several stool examinations.

A correct diagnosis is essential. For example, if roundworms and some other type of parasite are present, the roundworm needs to be treated first. Why? Because some medicines do not kill the worms but may only irritate them, so that they migrate to other body organs and cause serious damage.

While drug treatment has proved effective in getting rid of parasites, it is better to avoid being infected with them in the first place. So how can you protect yourself from parasites?

Cleanliness is the best protection. Excrement should not be left exposed to the air. Toilet facilities should be a safe distance from the water source. Human waste should not be used as fertilizer. Proper hygiene is essential as well. In addition, don’t let children eat dirt. If one child is found to have parasites, it would be a good idea to have all family members checked or examined by a qualified clinician.

Sliced Pineapple on a white backgroundCare should also be exercised in buying and preparing food. Try to buy products grown in an area that has a reputation for sanitary conditions. Meat should be well cooked in the center. Never eat raw meat. Raw fruits and vegetables should first be thoroughly washed. Be careful not to reuse the water, however, as it may be contaminated.

Drinking-WaterDrinking water should be brought to a full boil. After the water has cooled, it may be aerated to restore oxygen.
Traveling or eating out will require additional precautions. Bottled and cartoned drinks are usually safe if served without ice. Since some parasites survive freezing temperatures, ice is only as pure as the water it is made from. You may want to be careful about eating food sold by street vendors especially that we are in the rainy season when sanitation is vain in most parts of the country.

Watermelon-slicesCut-up pineapple or melon may look inviting, but they are often freshened up by sprinkling water that may be contaminated.

Be careful, but do not become so paranoid that you can no longer enjoy your trip. By taking reasonable precautions, there is much that you can do to protect yourself from parasites.

Edited by Asunta Simoloka




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