Parasite Testing

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Recent Surge in Parasites in the Great Lakes Region
What Are Parasites?
Symptoms and Conditions Caused By Parasitic Infection
Detecting Parasitic Infections

Recent Surge in Parasites in the Great Lakes Region

In December of 2008 a parasitic Asian tapeworm was discovered in the waters of Lake Huron, leading to a call to the public to avoid freshwater sushi from fish caught in any of the Great Lakes (this particular tapeworm is harmless once the fish is cooked, pickled, or smoked, but that's not always the case with all waterborne parasites). At the time this call was prompted, this tapeworm was the 186th new "invasive species" found in the Great Lakes Region, denoting what the Michigan Department of Natural Resources call a surge in fish infested with parasites over the past two years alone.
In October of 2008, a report was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine from a Wisconsin-based team of researchers warning that the climate trend in the Great Lakes Region towards more extreme weather conditions - such as more intense rainfall - is very likely going to increase risks to area residents of contracting a waterborne disease. This could conceivably affect the health of some 40 million people here whose drinking water comes from the Great Lakes.
parasite test in Chicago

One significant problem is the rise of intensity and frequency of storm activity causing the sewage systems to overflow in major urban areas like Chicago and Milwaukee. This causes millions of gallons of raw sewage to flow directly into Lake Michigan. Additionally, there is a large number of livestock concentrated in this region and all the animal waste they create is also swept away by heavy precipitation into the streams, rivers, and ultimately the public water supply.

Among the host of health dangers this poses, the most common are those caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. In 1993 more than 400,000 people in Milwaukee were exposed to the Cryptosporidium parasite through the city's drinking water. This parasitic outbreak killed 50 people. Normally the consequences of a parasitic infection aren't fatal, but they can range from uncomfortable or painful to downright debilitating--and indeed if left untended, life-shortening.


What Are Parasites?

Coming from the Greek for "beside" (para) and "food" (sitos) a parasite is any "animal or plant that lives on or in another organism from which it obtains nutrients". Some parasites eat the food their host consumes; other parasites eat parts of the host's body itself.

Many parasites eat the sugars in the body, while other parasites create deficiencies of other nutrients, such as iron, Vitamin A or Vitamin B12. When a parasite enters the body, it usually takes up residence somewhere in the gastrointestinal tract, but many parasites can find their way onto / into other areas of the body such as the nerves where they eat the protein coating them or into the joints and eat the calcium linings.

There are 4 ways a parasite can enter the human body:

1. Food and water
2. The skin and nose
3. An agent of transmission (like a mosquito)
4. Sexual activity

Symptoms and Conditions Caused By Parasitic Infection

The most common symptoms of a parasitic infection are abdominal pain and diarrhea. Other symptoms commonly associated with parasitic infections include:
Gas and Bloating
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Joint Aches and Muscle Aches
Nervousness, Difficulties Sleeping, And Chronic Fatigue
Grinding Teeth
Skin Conditions
More severe conditions that parasitic infections may cause include:
Environmental Illnesses
Upper Respiratory Tract Illnesses
Crohn's Disease
Parasites can destroy cells of the body quicker than the body can regenerate them; they can deprive the body of nutrients; they can irritate the intestinal lining, skin, and other bodily tissues; they can produce toxic elements in the body; they can cause allergic reactions; they can obstruct and place pressure on the bodily organs; and they can simultaneously activate the body's immune system while suppressing its functioning.

Chicago Parasite Testing at Essential Health Solutions

One problem with parasitic infections (made more dire by the current trend in the Great Lakes Region) is how frequently they go undiagnosed. From the list of symptoms and conditions listed above, it is easy to see how many people could conceivably be suffering from a parasitic infection and not even know it.

Here at Essential Health Solutions, if the doctor suspects you may have a parasite infection,he may recommend parasite testing.

If a Comprehensive Parasitology Profile is ordered by the dotor, our lab has highly trained technicians that utilize the most state-of-the-art equipment and procedures (including advanced immuno-assay techniques, new staining procedures, and computer-enhanced microscopy) to identify a comprehensive range of protozoal parasites (including amoebae, ciliates, coccidia, flagellates, and microsporidia).

This test uses a small stool sample (collected in the privacy of your home with a collection kit provided to you by our office) to detect for the presence and concentration of the most common parasites currently found in human beings: blastocystis hominis, endolimax nana, and entamoeba hartmanni. If parasite infestation is detected, the doctor will discuss with you what each parasite is, how it's typically transmitted, what physical symptoms are associated with it and recommended treatment options. 

The doctor may also elect to order an expanded parasitology test within the profile that uses advanced enzyme immuno-assay (EIA) technology in order to detect the amounts of cryptosporidium, giardia lamblia, and entamoeba histolytica/dispar in the body to develop a treatment plan or monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Additionally, the Comprehensive Parasitology Profile tests for the levels and types of certain bacteria and yeast in the stool, including beneficial intestinal microflora as well as imbalanced flora and possible fungal or bacterial pathogens.

A parasitology test may be called for if a patient is experiencing sudden changes in the patterns of their bowel movements, and is particularly indicated when those changes take place after a period of time spent camping or traveling abroad.