Tapeworms in Humans: Symptoms & Treatment Options

If we intake tapeworm eggs, they can travel outside of our intestines and create larval cysts in the tissues and organs.

This is known as an invasive infection. Ingesting tapeworm larvae may develop into adult tapeworms in the intestines and this is known as intestinal infection. 

With an intestinal tapeworm infection, the head of the tapeworm attaches to the intestinal wall. The proglottids grow and produce eggs.

The adult tapeworm can remain for up to 30 years in a host! 

The infections of intestinal tapeworms tend to be mild; with only one or two tapeworms. However, the invasive ones with multiple tapeworms may cause major complications. 

How to Recognize a Tapeworm Infection?

A lot of individuals with intestinal tapeworm infections don’t have symptoms. If you don’t suffer from the infection, the symptoms depend on the type of tapeworm and where it’s located. 

The invasive infection symptoms depend on where the larvae have traveled to. 

The symptoms of intestinal infection are the following:

  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal ache
  • Dizziness
  • Craving salt
  • Loss of weight
  • Inability to absorb nutrients from food

The signs of an invasive infection:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Neurological symptoms like seizures
  • Cystic mass or lump 
  • Headaches

What Are the Treatment Options for Tapeworm Infections?

Some people may not need any treatment at all because the tapeworm will get out of the body on its own. In other people, the symptoms are non-existent and they don’t even know they have it. 

People who’re diagnosed with a tapeworm infection may be prescribed a med therapy to get rid of the infection. 

Some of the most common oral meds used are Praziquantel, Albendazole, and Nitazoxanide. The medication which is prescribed depends on the type of tapeworm that’s affecting you as well as the infection’s location.

These meds will target the adult tapeworm, but not the eggs. Therefore, preventing reinfection is essential. To prevent a tapeworm infection, you need to wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating.

Stool sample checks may be done after the end of the treatment to ensure the infection has cleared out. The treatment is considered successful if the stool doesn’t contain tapeworm eggs, proglottids, or larvae. 

Invasive infections are treated with some of the following meds:

  • Anti-inflammatories 
  • Anthelmintics 
  • Anti-epileptic therapy
  • Shunt placement 
  • Surgery