What Are the Symptoms of a Tapeworm Infection?

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What Is a Tapeworm Infection?

A tapeworm infection occurs when food or water that has been contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae is ingested. There are numerous types of tapeworms that can infect the body. There are two types of tapeworm infections: an invasive tapeworm infection and an intestinal tapeworm infection.

An invasive tapeworm infection occurs when tapeworm eggs migrate to other areas of the body, not just the intestines. This then causes cysts to form on organs and other body tissues. An intestinal tapeworm infection occurs when tapeworm larvae are ingested, causing the tapeworm to develop into an adult within the intestinal tract. While adult tapeworms can live up to 20 years, many people are unaware they have a tapeworm infection. What are the symptoms of a tapeworm infection? The symptoms of a tapeworm infection often go unnoticed and can be misdiagnosed for other conditions, including pinworms.

What Are the Symptoms of a Tapeworm Infection?

Many people never experience any symptoms of a tapeworm infection. However, depending on the type of tapeworm ingested and the location of the infection symptoms can be experienced. Symptoms of an intestinal tapeworm infection can vary from person to person but overall, the signs and symptoms of an intestinal tapeworm infection include nausea and weakness. Other common symptoms of an intestinal tapeworm infection include loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, weight loss is experienced due to inadequate absorption of nutrients.

Invasive tapeworm infections can become quite serious after the tapeworm larvae have caused cysts to develop on other tissues. The tissue damage caused by the cysts can cause cystic masses or lumps, seizures, and fever. Some people develop an allergic reaction to the tapeworm larvae. Bacterial infections are common with invasive tapeworm infections. Neurological symptoms can develop as well.

What Are the Complications of a Tapeworm Infection?

Very rarely do intestinal tapeworm infections cause other complications but they can occur. Symptoms of complications from an intestinal tapeworm infection include blockages of the bile, appendix, and pancreatic duct. This can lead to further complications with these organs.

Complications of invasive tapeworm infections are much more severe than an intestinal tapeworm infection. A serious complication of an invasive tapeworm infection includes central nervous system and brain impairment, often referred to as neurocysticercosis. Symptoms of this complication include headaches and visual impairments, which are commonly caused by an invasive pork tapeworm infection. Seizures, meningitis, dementia, and even death can occur.

Organ functions can be altered from an invasive tapeworm infection as well. Symptoms of serious complications from an invasive tapeworm infection include lesions or cysts on the organs of the body, decreased circulation causing ruptured blood vessels, and rupture of the cysts. In severe cases of an invasive tapeworm infection, surgery and organ transplants may be needed.

References:

Tapeworm Infection” Medic8

Tapeworm Infection” Merck

Tapeworm Infection Symptoms” MayoClinic