Tapeworm Infection

What is a Tapeworm Infection?

A tapeworm infection, also known as taeniasis, is caused by a parasite that lives inside of a person’s body in their intestine. These worms are flat and characterized by their segmented body. These worms cause various symptoms and an infection can lead to an intestinal blockage if individuals do not receive treatment.

Other serious medical issues include heart, liver and brain complications. People usually get a tapeworm infection if they eat beef or pork that is not cooked to the correct temperature. Tapeworm eggs are passed along with bowel movements and individuals who do not properly wash their hands after going to the bathroom can contaminate food that others eat and transfer the infection to others.

What are the Symptoms of Tapeworm Infection?

Some people do not have any symptoms, but after having a bowel movement they may see tapeworm eggs or segments of worms in their stool. After becoming infected with tapeworms, it is usually around two to three months before the infection begins.

Tapeworm symptoms include hunger, losing weight, problems with the digestive system, vomiting and abdominal pain. Some individuals have an uncomfortable sensation around their anal area due to passing the tapeworms. These parasites can rob the body of nutrients and this causes individuals to lack important vitamins and minerals.

How is Tapeworm Infection Treated?

Before treatment begins, a physician will want to take a blood test and a stool sample to make the proper diagnosis. Individuals will be prescribed medications, such as albendazole and praziquantel, to rid the body of the parasites and the eggs.

The tapeworms will exit the body through bowel movements and it may be several weeks before the tapeworms are completely gone from a person’s body. If the tapeworms are not treated in a timely manner and the infection causes an intestinal blockage, it will be necessary for individuals to have surgery.

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Last Reviewed:
October 11, 2016
Last Updated:
August 09, 2017