Types of Worms and Parasites that Live in Humans
There are literally thousands of different types of worms in the animal kingdom. They generally have long, slender bodies with no separate limbs.
Worms live in a variety of habitats: some worms live in the earth such as earthworms, others live in water such as the leeches and others live in a human host such as tapeworms.
The worms that live in humans or in animals are known as parasites. Parasites always live in or on their host. They eat the food supplies of their host and cause a wide range of conditions and symptoms that range from mild to severe.
Parasitic Worms feed on Animals & Humans
Parasites live in or on another organism called the host organism. They use the half-digested food that is found in their host’s intestines as their own food supply. Parasites use host organisms for their nutrients and thrive in environments where they have a ready supply of food.
Parasites cause damage and destroy the tissues of their hosts as well
as producing their own toxic waste products that can cause a whole range
of unwanted and often debilitating health problems. Hosts suffer from
discomforts, infections and disease as a result of parasitic infection.
Parasites in humans can cause a number of problems, including diarrhoea,
fatigue, skin rash, nervousness, asthma, anaemia and more. It is estimated
that there are over 100 different types of parasitic worms that can
be found living in humans.
3 Main Types of Parasitic Worms
Flatworms include Tapeworms and Flukes. Flatworms breathe and eat literally through their skin. Oxygen and nutrients literally pass through their skin. They have no separate organs for digestion or circulation.
Flatworms feed on the blood, tissue fluids, or pieces of cells inside
the bodies of their hosts. Flatworms live on the skin, mouth, gills
or other outside parts of a host, or they can live internally such as
the ones that live in humans that infect the blood and organs.
Tapeworms live in human intestines where they feed on the partially-digested
food in their host’s intestines. It is a fully protected environment
and they grow and thrive in these conditions.
Flukes are a type of parasitic Flatworm. Flukes get their name from
the way they look as they are flat and the word "fluke" comes
from a German word "flah" meaning "flat". Flukes
have at least one external sucker, which they use to attach themselves
to their host.
Some of the most common types of Roundworms include Pinworms or Threadworms,
Hookworms, Ascaris (a word that literally means ‘intestinal worm’)
Signs of Infection from Parasites
People experience different signs of infection symptoms with parasite
infections but there are some that are more common:
Parasites can Harm & Kill their Hosts
Sometimes, the host's immune system receives a small amount of damage from hosting parasites. Other times, conditions can become more severe and in some cases, parasites can kill their hosts.
Parasites often use transmitting agents such as fleas or mosquitoes.
As in the case of the parasite, Plasmodium, which transmits the disease
called Malaria via the Anopheles mosquito, which gets its name from
the Greek for ‘useless.’
How are Parasites transmitted?
People can get parasites and worms is a lot of different ways:
How do Parasites Harm Us?
There is a 2-fold attack that Parasites make on their hosts. Not only
do they consume nutrients from their host, thereby denying this to their
host, but they also eliminate their own waste products into their host's
tissues and cells.
Protozoa | Smallest Parasites but Deadly
Parasites come in all shapes and sizes. Tapeworms and Ascaris are some of the largest known human intestinal parasites and at the opposite end of the scale, are some of the smallest parasites of all called protozoa.
Protozoa are in fact some of the smallest animals in the animal kingdom.
Most of them can only be seen using a microscope. The word "Protozoa"
comes from the Greek "protos" meaning "first" and
"zoa" meaning "animals". So despite being small,
they can still inflict a lot of damage on their hosts (the human body).
Amoebic Dystentry is an infection of the intestine resulting in fever, pain and severe diarrhea often accompanied by the passage of blood and mucus.
Amoeba are single-celled animals and some of them are parasitic and
cause disease. They are usually found in water or food and cause a range
of intestinal upsets that range in severity.
How do you get parasites and can we prevent them?
Unclean drinking water is one of the most common ways to get parasites. Even some so called "sanitised water" can contain parasites. If you live in a hot country, or are visiting one, always be particularly careful about the source of water you drink.
The only way parasites or worms can infect you is if they get into your body some how. So you need to think about how this is possible.
Firstly, the most common way is through the mouth, as they are often found in water or badly prepared food or poor sources of food.
There are other accidental ways an infection can be picked up and often a mistake is made by touching your dirty hands near your mouth or eyes.
If you stroke an infected animal, such as a pet, or at a farm, it is possible to get infected. What can happen is that parasitic eggs can pass from their fur to our hands, nose or mouth.
Some people quite happily let their pets lick their faces or their children's faces. This isn't really a good idea because you never really know if your pet has an infection, even if just a mild one. Is it worth it?
Very occasionally, parasites and worms can be airborne and they can be breathed in. This can occur in very dry conditions, or in moist environments. When cleaning out old sheds, attics, cellars or pet areas, consider wearing a simple face mask.
One thing to be realised is that family members can quite easily cross infect each other, because they are living so closely together for extended periods of time.
Here are some sensible measures you may consider taking to ensure you minimise the chances of getting infected or to ensure no re-infection following a parasite cleanse: