Symptoms of parasites may not always be obvious because they may mimic anemia or a hormone deficiency. Like bacteria and viruses, humans can also get infected with parasites. Parasites are organisms that live inside the human body. These organisms depend on the human host to provide them with food and energy. In most cases, parasites are harmful to humans because they take away the essential food for the body and eat away at vital organs. Parasite infections can be associated with loss of appetite, nausea, stomach cramps, fevers and even allergic reactions.

Not all bacteria types are harmful to human. In fact some bacteria types reside in the intestine and protect the body from “bad” bacteria. In healthy people, bacterial infections are rare but when the conditions are right, bacteria can cause infection on almost any organ in the body.

In North America, parasite infections are not common because of good sanitary conditions. However, in parts of the world where sanitation and hygiene are poor, parasites are a major source of morbidity and death. Millions of people in Africa and India are infected with a variety of parasites. Parasites are not innocuous organisms- they multiply fast and can spread to other organs. Some parasites can even cause blindness or destroy the brain. People, who have immune deficiencies like HIV, are very prone to parasites because the body’s immune system is no longer effective.

Basically there are two classes of parasites – large and small. Large parasites like round worms, flukes and tapeworms often infect the intestines and can be seen with the naked eye. These parasites attach themselves to the intestine lining and consume the food humans eat. Such parasites cause weight loss, anemia and vitamin deficiencies. The small parasites are very tiny and not visible with the naked eye. In fact these parasites are more dangerous than the large ones because they can migrate anywhere and cause significant damage.

In some cases, parasites can live inside the human body for many years without making their presence felt.
The typical symptoms of a parasitic infection include weight loss, low energy, excess fatigues, skin rashes, joint and muscle pain, constipation, recurrent colds and extremely low energy. Most people acquire parasites from insect bites, walking with bare feet, eating raw meat, contaminated fruits and vegetables, drinking contaminated water, inhaling infected dust particles, and from contact with infected individuals and pets.

The treatment of parasites is similar to that of bacteria. Besides improving nutrition there are also varieties of parasitic medications and antibiotics. To prevent reinjection and transmission of parasites, one should thoroughly wash hands, rinse clothing, linen and toys. It is recommended all members of the family be treated when one member of the family has a parasitic infection. Individuals who work outdoors should wear gloves, children should not be allowed to handle or kiss pets that have not been dewormed and one should thoroughly wash all vegetables. Individuals with symptoms of parasites should get proper treatment from a health care professional.