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A day in the life of a patient suffering from tapeworm infection (Taeniasis)

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I am suffering from tapeworm infection (also called Taeniasis or Cysticercosis). I am sure you may not have heard of this disease. Even I was puzzled when the doctor told me about the diagnosis. Later, he told me it’s an infection caused due to a parasite. I am experiencing several symptoms due to this disease. It has affected my routine life. Let me explain the changes this simple infection has brought about in my life and which are the symptoms of this disease

Waking up in the morning

I feel a kind of discomfort in my abdomen all day long, even at night. I also feel nauseated. I used to get vomiting several times a day initially. But, now the frequency of vomiting has reduced. However, the other symptoms have persisted. I usually get up with the feeling of an urge to pass stools or vomit.

The doctor told me this infection is caused due to an adult tapeworm of any of the three species, Taenia saginata, Taenia solium, or Taenia asiatica. Among these, Taenia solium is known to cause major health problems and unfortunately, in my case, the parasite that has infected me is Taenia solium.

Starting the day

Since a few days, I am feeling a bit confused and disoriented. On some occasions, I thought that it was already the night though I had just got up from my sleep in the morning. The doctor told me that it’s a common symptom of tapeworm infection. It occurs when the parasites affect the functions of the nervous system. I also suffer from frequent headaches. My vision is also affected. So, I have to take help from someone in my family after getting up to take a bath and perform other morning rituals. 

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Cysticercosis basically occurs due to the ingestion of the raw or undercooked pork. After developing the annoying symptoms of Taeniasis, I have stopped eating pork completely. I do not want to take any risk with my health. Even the sight of pork gives me goosebumps.

I am better off eating healthy, nutritious foods. I eat fresh fruits, salads, and boiled vegetables. These foods are easy on my stomach. The doctor has asked me to increase my water intake to prevent dehydration. I also drink lots of fruit juices. It helps me feel fresh and energetic at least for a few hours.

Going to work and taking medications

I find it difficult to travel to the office. But, I manage somehow. I have started relying on the public transport instead of driving to the office myself. I take a short nap while on the bus. Rest is important for me to recover faster.

The treatment of tapeworm infection is a bit difficult. The doctor has prescribed me a combination of 3 medications: praziquantel, albendazole, and corticosteroids. These medicines have reduced my symptoms significantly.

Prevention of complications

The only way I could have prevented Cysticercosis was by being careful while eating meat. The doctor has asked me to avoid meat and even beef and follow hygienic precautions to prevent further complications.
However, these measures can only help to prevent similar infections in the future. It may not help to cure the disease I am suffering from. I have to take the medications as recommended and eat a healthy diet to prevent the complications of Cysticercosis and control its symptoms.

What are the daily limitations and what are the fears?

The worst part about Taeniasis is it does not affect just the intestines. It can also affect the eyes, muscles, skin, and the nervous system. This infection has affected my eye health and reduced my vision. So, I have to restrict my activities within the safer spheres. I have to be very careful while traveling. I also avoid going out after the evening hours.

My movements have also become slow due to the involvement of muscles. I have developed nodules in the muscles due to which I experience pain while moving about. These symptoms have enforced a lot of restrictions on my carefree lifestyle.

How does the future look like?

I am recovering slowly from the symptoms of Cysticercosis. Luckily, my body is responding well to the treatment. The doctor told me I would recover completely within a month or so provided I do not develop more complications.

If this infection affects my brain, it may lead to Neurocysticercosis. However, this can be prevented by taking the treatment properly. This assurance has removed a huge load from my mind. It has reduced my stress and fears to some extent.

What are the risk factors?

I love pork! But, I have vowed never to eat it. I am suffering from Cysticercosis due to my craving for pork. Actually, the infection with Taenia solium is caused by the consumption of undercooked or raw, infected pork only. But, I am not taking any chances with my health. It’s better to avoid pork and even beef to reduce my risk of similar infections in the future.

The causes and evolution of tapeworm infection

The symptoms of Cysticercosis become evident only after 6 to 8 weeks of the tapeworms entering the body. I started developing the symptoms about a month back. It started with abdominal pain, nausea, loose motions, and vomiting. Over the next few days, this infection started affecting my eyes, and skin as well.
Luckily, it has not affected my brain; otherwise, I would have suffered from more serious complications like seizures, meningitis, and even hydrocephalus.

This infection has reduced my memory. Last week, it so happened that I forgot where I was heading to while coming back from the office. Luckily, my colleague spotted me wandering on the streets and dropped me home. This incident shocked me and my family members.

So now, we have come up with a solution. I have stuck a piece of paper mentioning my name, contact number of family members, and the address on the backside of my badge for office. So, in case, I get lost, it would help me get back home.

What are the psychological effects when you have Taeniasis?

I am living with the fear of developing complications related to the brain. I do not want to suffer from convulsions or complete memory loss. I am also worried about my vision. I am not sure whether my eyesight will be restored after the infection has cleared up. These thoughts put tremendous pressure on my mind. It has affected my peace of mind. It scares me to think of what might be in store for me in the future.

Topics: Taeniasis

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Written by Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy is a doctor having a clinical experience of more than 15 years. She has an expertise in treating acute and chronic diseases like obesity, IBS, asthma, arthritis, Autism, ADHD, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, allergies, cancer, infections, and skin diseases. She believes in treating the patients in a holistic manner. She aims at educating the patients about the illness and providing tips related to their lifestyle and diet to ensure a long-term relief from the disease and preventing its recurrence.