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What are the Symptoms of Tapeworm?

By S. Gonzales
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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A tapeworm is a parasitic worm that can infect a human and cause a myriad of health problems. It may survive in its human host for more than 20 years and can grow in excess of 20 feet (6.10 m). Recognizing the symptoms of tapeworm infection can help potential hosts combat the infection before it escalates into very serious health issues.

Tapeworm infections are commonly traced back to the consumption of tainted or undercooked beef, pork and sometimes fish. Cooking food thoroughly is recommended to kill any potentially infectious parasites. Many people who are infected with tapeworms do not exhibit any symptoms at all, but those who do suffer physically show specific symptoms.

The most common symptoms of tapeworm infection include weakness, nausea, appetite loss, pain in the abdominal area, diarrhea, loss of weight and the inability to absorb nutrients properly. Any or all of these symptoms can interfere with an infected person's health and quality of life. Prolonged symptoms can result in more severe symptoms.

More severe symptoms of tapeworm infection can manifest in people who have been infected with the parasite for a long time. They may also manifest due to infections that have resulted in cyst formations on tissues other than those in the intestines. Overt cystic formations, masses or lumps, fever, vitamin deficiencies, an inflamed intestine, dizziness, insomnia, anemia, allergic reactions, bacterial infections and even neurological responses such as seizures can also be a result of tapeworm infection.

Symptoms of infection with tapeworm larvae may differ slightly than those of infection with adult tapeworms. This is because the larvae are small enough to travel through the blood stream and can take up residence in other parts of the body. Abdominal pain and fever can be present, but so can coughing, lung pain, jaundice, blindness, seizures and the sensation of pressure inside the skull.

In addition, infected people may notice tapeworm eggs or the remnants of a tapeworm body in their stools. However, it is important to note that tapeworm body remnants do not mean that the tapeworm has been safely excreted from the body. A tapeworm's entire body can be passed, but if the head remains in the human host's body, then the tapeworm can regrow to its original length again.

Symptoms of tapeworm infection can be treated by removing the tapeworm itself. Medicinal treatments may be opted for, but tapeworms can also be treated with simple herbs like black walnut hull, wormwood and cloves. In addition, keeping a conscientious, organic diet and practicing good hygiene may diminish any future chances of tapeworm infection.

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Discussion Comments
By anon162704 — On Mar 24, 2011

Even the thought makes me want to take a couple of ex-lax.

By anon133236 — On Dec 09, 2010

There have been a lot of misconceptions about pork over the years. Coming from a culinary background, properly cooked pork is usually still pinkish in the middle. A cook/chef should be able to tell the difference between cooked and uncooked pork; however if you are not sure, it is always best to be on the safe side.

By anon125154 — On Nov 08, 2010

Actually, you can buy tape worms and the company does this specifically for the marketing of weight loss. I'd personally rather have a doctor tell me i have cancer than a parasite in my body though, so i don't know how people can use that.

By dudla — On Jun 05, 2010

Graciegirl - I don't know, but that sounds unnecessarily dangerous to me.... According to the CDC, you're supposed to cook pork til the juices run clear -- if the pork is still pink in the center, I don't think the juices are running clear. I'd err on the side of caution and only eat thoroughly cooked pork, regardless of what your waiter tells you.

By graciegirl — On Jun 03, 2010

The last couple of times I have ordered pork chops in a restaurant, I've noticed they've come cooked medium well with a strip of pink in the middle. I asked the waiter who said its been proven a safe way to eat. Before that, I've always been told to make sure you thoroughly cook pork. So I wonder, is it true? Can you eat pork that's still a bit pink in the middle?

By nicegirljan — On Jun 02, 2010

I always thought tapeworms caused appetite not a lack of it. Now what can I blame my snacking on?

Seriously though, the idea of something eating my insides is enough to make me want to have my entire system sandblasted and scraped!

By sinefey — On Jan 22, 2010

Well that was cringe worthy! I don't know how true it is, but I remember hearing that some diet or weight loss "supplements" that say "Natural Antagonist" actually have tapeworm larvae in it!

Course I heard that a long time ago, I know the FDA doesn't regulate everything, but I'd hope companies wouldn't be able to actually sell something like that.

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