Parasitic infections

Parasitic infections

Overview

Some infectious diseases are caused by parasites that grow or give off toxins that cause infection. Parasitic infections are more common in tropical and subtropical areas, but they also occur in developed countries.

Some better known parasitic infections include:

  • Malaria
  • Hookworm disease
  • Head lice
  • Toxoplasmosis

Symptoms of parasitic infections

Symptoms of parasitic infections vary depending on the type of infection you may have. Many people experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Gas and upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Itchy, red, irritated skin
  • Muscle aches

How are parasitic infections diagnosed?

If you have some of these symptoms and have recently traveled to tropical areas, your physician may order tests to determine whether and what type of parasite you may have. Some tests for parasitic infections include:

  • Stool test to look for parasite eggs
  • Endoscopy or colonoscopy to examine your intestines for signs of parasites. In this procedure, a small, flexible tube with a camera on the end is placed into your rectum.
  • Blood test for certain types of parasites

 

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