Are you expecting and suffering from vomiting and diarrhea? Are you losing a substantial amount of weight? Do you suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency as well? If you nodded along gravely, you might be suffering from tapeworm during pregnancy. Tapeworm can lead to many complications during your special time, and you need to visit a doctor immediately. Keep yourself safe and read our post. Here we talk all about tapeworm infection during pregnancy.
What Is Tapeworm Infection?
Tapeworms are parasites that thrive in your gastrointestinal tract. A tapeworm infection affects your digestive system and leads to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. As an expectant mom, a tapeworm infection may be more dangerous for you than others, so visit a doctor immediately if you suffer from the symptoms of a tapeworm infection (1).
[ Read: Signs Of Diarrhea In Pregnancy ]
Causes Of Tapeworm Infection During Pregnancy
A tapeworm infection occurs due to the five types of worms we list below:
- Diphyllobothrium, or the fish tapeworm, occurs when you consume undercooked freshwater fish.
- Taenia solium, or the pork tapeworm, occurs when you consume undercooked pork
- Taenia saginata, or the beef tapeworm, occurs when you consume undercooked beef that comprises larval cysts.
- Hymenolepic, also popular as the dwarf tapeworm, is a unique species of tapeworm that spreads from a human to human.
- Echinococcus comprises three species of tapeworm. Once you consume it, its larva moves throughout your body and leads to cysts in your organs.
- Poor hygiene practices too can cause tapeworm infection during pregnancy (2).
[ Read: Common Infections During Pregnancy ]
Symptoms Of Tapeworm During Pregnancy
The symptoms of a tapeworm infection are easily discernible. Some of the common symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain. The area just above the stomach may pain a lot.
- Presence of larvae or segments of the tapeworm in the stools
- General weakness
- Inflammation of intestine or enteritis
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Malnutrition since tapeworm utilizes all essential nutrients
- Deficiency of vitamin B12, particularly due to Diphyllobothrium latum
- Allergic reaction to the tapeworm larvae
- Bacterial infection
- Intracranial pressure (3)
[ Read: Bacterial Infections During Pregnancy ]
Diagnosing Tapeworm Infection During Pregnancy
Diagnosing a tapeworm infection involves different tests depending on the type of tapeworm infection. Here are some common diagnostic tests to detect tapeworm infection during pregnancy.
1. Blood Tests:
Blood tests of an expecting mother aim to look for the presence of antibodies to tapeworm infection.
2. Imaging Scans:
Imaging scans include ultrasound scan, chest X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computerized tomography (CT scan). If nothing prominent occurs in the blood tests, the doctor recommends imaging scans. Depending on the condition of expecting mother, the doctor recommends imaging scans.
3. Organ Tests:
The doctor may recommend organ tests to check the functioning of the affected organs.
[ Read: Symptoms of Jaundice In Pregnancy ]
Treating Tapeworm Infection During Pregnancy
It is best to consult the doctor as soon as symptoms of a tapeworm infection surface. Depending on the type of tapeworm, the doctor will prescribe medicines:
- For fish tapeworm, the doctor prescribes praziquantel and supplements of vitamin B that include folic acid.
- For pork tapeworm, the doctor recommends niclosamide or praziquantel. If the tapeworm infection results in cysts in the brain, the doctor is most likely to prescribe praziquantel, corticosteroids, and albendazole.
- For beef tapeworm, doctor mostly prescribes niclosamide or praziquantel.
- For dwarf tapeworm, doctor prescribes praziquantel or niclosamide to alleviate the symptoms of the infection
- Finally for Echinococcus tapeworms, the doctor would recommend albendazole, praziquantel, or even surgery if need be (4).
Did you suffer from tapeworm infection while expecting? What did the doctor advise you? Share your experience with expecting moms here. Leave a comment below.
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