Parasitic Infestation Treatment Specialist Q&A
Talk to our team of healthcare professionals today about parasitic infestation and the treatment options available. Call our team of healthcare professionals at Columbia Clinic Urgent Care or visit us online to book an appointment. We have convenient locations to serve you in Tibbetts St. Portland OR, Washington St. Portland OR, Happy Valley OR, Division St Portland OR, and Tigard OR.
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Parasites are a form of the organism that survives by living off of other organisms, called hosts. In some cases, the hosts aren’t affected by the organism’s presence, but in other cases they can make their hosts very sick, causing the host to experience a parasitic infection. In the United States, parasitic infections are present, however, they aren’t as big of a problem as they are in other areas of the world that have tropical and subtropical climates.
One of the deadliest and most commonly heard parasitic infections in the world is Malaria, although it isn’t common in the United States. In the United States, the most common parasitic infections are trichomoniasis, giardiasis, toxoplasmosis, and cryptosporidiosis. The transmission of parasitic infections can vary, with some being passed through the contamination of food, water, soil, waste, and blood. In other cases, they can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact or can be spread from insect bites.
There are three types of organisms that can cause parasitic infections. These are protozoa, helminths, and ectoparasites. Each organism has unique properties and characteristics based on the composition of the organism, how it survives, and the way it can spread infections. Single-celled organisms are called protozoa, and they are found inside the body where they live and multiply. One common infection caused by protozoa is giardiasis, which is spread through drinking water that has been contaminated by Giardia protozoa.
One form of multi-celled organisms is helminths, which can live on either the inside or outside of the host’s body. More commonly referred to as worms, common forms of helminths include tapeworms, flatworms, roundworms, and thorny-headed worms. The third organism, ectoparasites, are also multi-celled organisms, with these ones feeding and living off of the skin of their host. Some common ectoparasites are insects like fleas, ticks, mites, mosquitos, or arachnids.
Signs and symptoms of parasitic infections will vary based on the organism that caused the infection.
The four common parasitic infections in the United States, and their corresponding symptoms are:
– Trichomoniasis often shows no symptoms. It is a parasite that is transferred from one person to another as a sexually transmitted infection. When people experience symptoms, they can include itching, irritation, and redness around the genital area, as well as an unusual discharge.
– Giardiasis is passed on through contaminated food, water, waste, soil, or blood and can cause symptoms such as gas, dehydration, diarrhea, upset stomach, and greasy stools.
– Cryptosporidiosis can cause a variety of symptoms such as fever, stomach cramps, stomach pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss.
– Toxoplasmosis symptoms can appear similar to those of the flu, including swollen lymph nodes along with muscles aches and pains, but last longer than the flu, typically for over a month.
Symptoms of the parasitic infection can be confused with symptoms of other conditions, so it is important to see a doctor for a confirmed diagnosis if you suspect you have become infected.
The treatment for a parasitic infection will vary based on which organism caused the infection and how severe the symptoms are. Prior to starting treatment for a parasitic infection, your doctor will want to confirm that you do in fact have an infection, and determine what type of infection. From there, your doctor can prescribe medication to treat the infection, if deemed necessary. In the case of toxoplasmosis, doctors often don’t prescribe medication as this typically clears up on its own, except in the case of severe infections or if you have existing conditions that can put you at risk of complications, such as pregnancy.
Doctors can also recommend treatments to help relieve your symptoms or to counteract symptoms such as dehydration. If you suspect you have a parasitic infection or have recently returned from a climate where parasitic infections are high risk, the team at Columbia Clinic Urgent Care can perform the necessary exams and tests to determine if you are in fact infected, and with which type of infection. From there, the appropriate treatment plan will be determined to get you back to feeling like normal. We serve patients from Portland OR, PDX, Happy Valley OR, Tigard OR, Milwaukie OR, Cedar Hills OR, Cedar Mill OR, Lake Oswego OR, Oak Grove OR, Vancouver WA, Aloha OR, Minnehaha WA, Gladstone OR, Tualatin OR, West Linn OR, Fairview OR, Oregon City OR.