Pathogenic bacteria consist of bacteria that can cause disease in the Gastrointestinal (GI) tract. They are present due to the consumption of contaminated food or water, exposure to animals, fish, or amphibians known to harbor the organisms. These organisms can be detected by either Multiplex PCR or microbiology culture with the help of functional stool analysis.
Imbalanced bacteria are usually neither pathogenic nor beneficial to the person’s GI tract. Imbalances can occur when there are insufficient levels of beneficial bacteria and increased levels of commensal bacteria. Certain commensal bacteria are reported as dysbiotic at higher levels.
Intestinal parasites are abnormal inhabitants of the gastrointestinal tract that have the potential to cause damage to their host.
The presence of any parasite within the intestine generally confirms that the person has acquired the organism through fecal-oral contamination. Damage to the person includes parasitic burden, migration, blockage, and pressure. Immunologic inflammation hypersensitivity reactions and cytotoxicity also play a large role in the morbidity of these diseases. The infective dose often relates to the severity of the disease and repeat encounters can be additive.
There are two main classes of intestinal parasites: protozoa and helminths (worms).
The protozoa typically have two stages:
the trophozoite stage is the metabolically active invasive stage;
the cyst stage is the vegetative inactive form resistant to unfavorable environmental conditions outside the human host.
Helminths are large multicellular organisms. Like protozoa, helminths can be either free-living or parasitic in nature. In their adult form, helminths cannot multiply in humans.
In general, acute manifestations of parasitic infection may involve diarrhea with or without mucus, blood, fever, nausea, or abdominal pain. However, these symptoms do not always occur. Consequently, parasitic infections may not be diagnosed or eradicated. If left untreated chronic parasitic infections can cause damage to the intestinal lining and can be an unsuspected cause of illness and fatigue. Chronic parasitic infections can also be associated with increased intestinal permeability, irritable bowel syndrome, irregular bowel movements, malabsorption, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), or indigestion, skin disorders, joint pain, allergic reactions, and decreased immune function.
In some instances, parasites may enter the circulation and travel to various organs causing severe organ diseases such as liver abscesses and cysticercosis. In addition, some larval migration can cause pneumonia and in rare cases hyper infection syndrome with large numbers of larvae being produced and found in every tissue of the body.
What effect do parasites have on the body?
Being present in the human body, the parasite has a rather serious pathogenic effect. Moreover, one and the same parasite can simultaneously produce several mechanisms of action on a person.
Mechanisms of Action
Mechanical impact. For example, if a roundworm is in the intestine, it will of course crush, injure the intestinal wall. In some cases, it may cause an inflammatory process. If, for example, echinococcus is located, in the liver, in the lungs, or in the kidneys, the tissue will be compressed accordingly. This is a classic, mechanical effect: expansion, pressure, dysfunction of the organ or the system in which the parasite is present. There are a lot of not only luminal parasites that are present in the gastrointestinal tract, but there are also many tissue parasites that can fully make the so-called mechanical action.
Stimulation of allergic reactions. Unfortunately, when a person has allergic reactions, it is the vicious circle of appointments with different doctors: a dermatologist, a pediatrician, a therapist, an allergist, but doctors do not always rule out the presence of parasitic invasions in the body in the first place.
Any parasite can lead to the formation of serious allergic reactions, and they can be varied, both on the skin and infect the bronchopulmonary tree inside the lungs. For example, frequent obstructive bronchitis – in children may be due to the fact that some kind of parasite lives in the intestines.
Influence on the Microflora. It’s no secret that any person hosts the vast world of microbiota (bacteria, yeast, and more). The microflora that inhabits all our mucous membranes, skin, organs, tissues is the same friendly microflora that produces vitamins, minerals, hormones, enzymes for us, helps our body to live normally. And now, unfortunately, in the presence of parasites, it begins to actively die.
Immunosuppressive Action. Today it has been clearly proven that the waste products of parasites dramatically inhibit the functioning of the immune system. They just block it. Moreover, over millions of years, parasites have learned to mimic and hide from the immune system, producing special anti-enzymes. Thus, blocking the immune system may make a person get sick with various parasitoses for decades. Sooner or later it may lead to serious diseases in the body as a whole, or in a separate organ or system.
Effects of anti-enzymes. Unfortunately, parasites not only can drain our bodies but also consume the nutrients we eat and prevent their absorption. If we try to consume healthy foods, full of minerals and vitamins or take supplements, they will not always benefit us, because our parasites will take the lion’s share of them.
Nevertheless, there is emerging research on the treatment of allergic reactions and some other issues with the controlled helminth introduction to the person. But more often than not, the unintended parasites may wreak havoc in the body.
Nervous Reflex Mechanism of Action. The waste byproducts of parasites poison the nervous system. And very often this can affect the psycho-emotional state of both an adult and a child. Any psychosomatic illness can be associated with parasitic invasion. A child may have hyperreactivity, or vice versa lethargy, tearfulness, a tendency to depression – all this may be due to the presence of a parasite in the body. For example, even the simplest lamblia produces toxins. Even if they are in microdoses, they are still toxins that are identical to psychotropic substances. Of course, a child or an adult with such constant poisoning will experience serious stress on the functioning of the central nervous system. And from here all sorts of psychological and mental disorders can follow: sleep disturbances, nervous disorders, various psychological problems.
In my opinion, the most serious and terrible thing is the stimulation of cancer growth by parasites. The prolonged presence of parasitosis in the body can provoke such a problem as the formation of cancer: benign and malignant. Moreover, the stimulation of neoplasms may be associated with two factors.
The first factor is the direct, damaging effect of the tissues of one or another organ.
The second is an action mediated through a sharp suppression of the immune system. Our immune system is responsible for antiparasitic protection and is also responsible for antitumor protection. As a result of improper division, a cancer cell may appear in the human body. In this case, the deficiency of the immune system will manifest itself in such a way that this cell will not be recognized by our immune cells in time, and will not be killed in a timely manner.
When Can a Person Suspect the Presence of Parasites?
I will now tell you a list of clinical manifestations of parasitic invasions, in the presence of which, you should quickly contact your doctor in order to clarify whether you actually have this diagnosis.
Itching in the anus. Many people know about it – it is associated with the presence of parasites, especially in children’s practice.
Grinding teeth while sleeping. Mothers suddenly notice that the child began to grind his/her teeth while asleep. Why is this happening? Very often, squeaking in children is associated with frightening dreams. This is exactly the mechanism of toxic effects on the central nervous system that we talked about. The child has a terrible dream and he grinds his teeth in fear from fear. This is one of the reasons. There are other reasons as well. The formation of trismus or increased tone of the masticatory muscles can also be a symptom in this case.
Drooling in sleep, drooling in the morning, nausea in the morning when brushing teeth. These are all those manifestations that can indirectly indicate the presence of parasitic invasion in the body.
Peeling of fingers and toes, peeling of the skin in layers.
Increased hunger, sometimes to fainting.
Allergic skin rashes. Doctors should not be in a hurry to give antiallergic drugs to their patients. Because a high degree of allergies, suddenly appearing in a person within a short period of time, may indicate that the patient has a parasitic invasion.
Rash in the eyelids, their peeling, swelling.
General weakness, lethargy, drowsiness, depression, mental disorders for no known reason.
Any itching of the skin. Especially in children. First of all, it is necessary to exclude the presence of parasitic invasions.
Disturbed by symptoms such as bloating, gurgling in the abdomen, unstable stools.
Decrease in weight, or vice versa, increase in weight. With parasitosis, there can be both.
The presence of several chronic diseases at the same time. Diseases of the joints, bronchopulmonary tree, gastrointestinal tract. If suddenly a person begins to get sick in stages, then one, then the second, then the third, then the fifth, then the tenth, and initially there was no apparent reason for this, then this is a reason to think about the presence of parasites in the body.
Feeling unwell, and the diagnosis is unclear. Such patients can also go to various specialists. Ultimately, the diagnosis will remain unclear, and the state of health will remain poor.
Long-term toxic-allergic manifestations. Sudden allergic reactions to food.
Persistent anemia. When hemoglobin decreases significantly and does not respond well to supplementation with iron-rich foods or supplements.
!!!In children: lag in physical, psychosomatic, psychoemotional development, hyperreactivity, or vice versa, lethargy, in schoolchildren, poor assimilation of the material – all this may indicate the presence of hidden parasitosis in the body.
Long-term lymphadenopathies (a condition manifested by an increase in the nodes of the lymphatic system), recurrent lymphadenitis can also indicate the presence of parasitic invasions.
I have listed for you the main clinical signs of parasites. Notice how different they can be. And with these symptoms, a patient can turn to almost any of the doctors. I am for everything to be done professionally. In order not to harm the person in the first place. If you suspect you have a parasitic disease, I can help you.
Zhanna Tarjeft, FNP is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and a founder of Sprouts Health Functional Medicine Practice in Gilbert, Arizona. Her articles are a matter of personal opinion and do not constitute direct medical advice. All conditions are unique and require the direct review and care of your own physician. To book an appointment with Zhanna Tarjeft contact her at (480) 550-9551