What are parasites?
A parasite is an organism which exploits any other live animal for nutrition. In most cases, the parasitic process causes harm to the body through the actual removal of the nutrients, or by carrying other diseases into the body.
Parasites are often thought of as a tropical disease, but this is a huge misconception. It is estimated that as many as 10% of people in the UK have parasites. Many people will carry parasitic infections at a subclinical level for years, with the parasite feeding, reproducing and affecting the health of the host. Contaminated food and water, raw or inadequately cooked meat and fish and physical contact are the most widespread sources of intestinal parasites.
The effect of parasites living in the gut depends on the species of parasite identified. There are two main types of intestinal parasite, helminths and protozoa.
Symptoms of intestinal parasites include:
The likelihood of a parasitic infection is greatly increased if you experience any of the above symptoms following foreign travel.
More about parasites
Diagnosis of helminth infection is normally through the detection of the eggs in the stool. These eggs are highly infectious, and very robust. The pig tapeworm Taenia solium has been shown to survive for a decade and still re-infect a new host when eaten. Worms will live in the gut for many years reproducing, reducing the absorption of nutrients and generally affecting the host’s health. The protozoa are single celled organisms. These organisms combine all organs needed for feeding, reproducing and mobility in one single cell, typically about a fiftieth of a millimetre in diameter. The ability to rapidly reproduce and the excretion of toxic waste materials, means that when these animals do infect the gut, there is the potential for serious acute disease. There are many protozoa that are recognised as pathogenic, that is disease causing, typical symptoms include diarrhoea, cramps, flatulence and abdominal discomfort.What causes a parasitic infection?Parasites are often thought of as a tropical disease, but this is a huge misconception. It is estimated that as many as 10% of people in the UK have parasites. Many people will carry parasitic infections at a subclinical level for years, with the parasite feeding, reproducing and affecting the health of the host. Contaminated food and water, raw or inadequately cooked meat and fish and physical contact are the most widespread sources of intestinal parasites. The effect of parasites living in the gut depends on the species of parasite identified, of which there are two main types, helminths and protozoa.
How does the test work?
Our lab will carry out a total of 12 investigations. Samples are subjected to a microscopy technique that utilises Optimized Parasite Recovery (OPR) in order to ensure that all clinically relevant parasites will be identified. This process involves combining multiple stool specimens (taken over 3 consecutive days) for intestinal ova and parasite examination, as opposed to only using an individual sample for evaluation. Studies show that by combining stool specimens, the overall detection rate of parasites increases by more than 20%. Special stains are also used to enhance the detection of some of the common gut parasites.
What will the test results tell me?
The microscopy technique used in our Parasite Screen allows for the detection of any parasite that may be present, this would also include ‘dead’ parasites. Identifying a parasite will help you, with the guidance of a professional, to create the correct protocol to get rid of it and any associated symptoms. If the test comes back negative it will also help you to rule a parasitic infection out and look for other potential causes to your symptoms like candidiasis, food intolerance or adrenal fatigue all of which can give rise to similar symptoms.
What can be done if I have a parasite?
Your GP may prescribe antiparasitic medication in order to address the specific parasite infection. A variety of antiparasitic herbs can also be useful.
What are the sample requirements and test turnaround?
When you order the test we will send you the stool collection kit with comprehensive instructions on how to collect and store your sample. Samples need to be taken on 3 different days, and put into the pots provided containing a preservative. When you have collected the required samples, you just post them back to the laboratory in the mail-safe container provided.
The results of our investigation will be returned to you within 10 to 15 working days.
More about results
You will receive an email and SMS once your test results are ready to be downloaded from your secure account area, where you can also simply track and manage all your health test results at any time.
Example parasite test results
We can test for a range of different allergies and health markers, using one of our home-testing kits. In this kit, you'll be able to test:
Markers for the presence of parasites in the body
Once you've got your kit, make sure to read all of the enclosed instructions - they'll make sure you easily and safely get the best sample possible.
Samples need to be taken on 3 different days, and put into the pots provided containing a preservative. On the final day, a sample is also placed into a pot without preservative, so we can examine the live gut fauna.
Put your sample in the prepaid envelope provided and pop it in the post. Now you can sit back and relax - we'll let you know when your results are ready.