This infection is a result of infestation of tapeworm eggs or larvae through ingestion of contaminated food or water. Ingested tapeworm eggs migrate outside intestine and form larval cysts in the tissues and organs of body.
Usually intestinal tapeworm infection is asymptomatic. But sometimes intestinal tapeworm infection can presents as:
- Nausea and weaknesses
- Decrease appetite
- Pain in abdomen
- Diarrhea and dizziness
- Craving for salt
- Loss of weight with malabsorption of nutrients from food
Invasive tapeworm infection have following signs and symptoms:
- Intense headache
- Lumps or cystic masses
- Seizures and other neurological symptoms
- Anaphylactic reactions to the larvae
Tapeworm infection starts with the ingestion of tapeworm eggs or larvae from contaminated food or water. Food and water will be contaminated with faeces of person or animal having tapeworm. Inside the intestine, egg matures into larvae. Larvae then becomes mobile and comes out of intestine to form cysts in liver and other tissues.
Although complications are rare with tapeworm infection but it can cause:
- Dysfunction of organs like liver, lungs or other organs.
- Anaphylactic reaction if cyst ruptures in the body.
Diagnosis depends upon detailed medical history and following tests:
- Analysis of stool sample
- Blood tests
- CT or MRI scans, X-rays, or ultrasounds of cysts
Treatment options for intestinal infection include:
- Medications like Praziquantel (Biltricide), Albendazole (Albenza), Nitazoxanide (Alinia)
- Proper hygiene of hands especially after using toilet and before eating.
Treatment options for invasive infection include:
- Prescribing medications like Anthelmintic drugs
- Anti-inflammatory therapy
- Anti-epileptic therapy
- Shunt placement
- Surgical removal of cysts is sometimes necessary