How Worms Survive Inside Your Body

Ever take you dog to the vet to get dewormed?
Yeah fun facts, humans get worms too. Lots of them. So what are these parasites inside
us? hey guys Julia here for DNews Worms are some of the least loved creatures
on this planet. From earthworms, to the parasites that live inside of us, they just seem creepy,
crawly and slimy. But as disgusting as they are, we’ve evolved with them, and getting
rid of them completely, might just make us sick. But first, let’s talk about how these parasitic
worms do harm to our bodies. Pinworms, a small intestinal parasite, which the Journal of
Dermatology says 30-50% of the world has, doesn’t often cause serious illness but
can cause some uncomfortable itching…when it comes out of your anus to lay its eggs.
We get tapeworms, another intestinal parasite, that sneaks into our bodies when we eat undercooked
beef or pork. They cause stomach pains, nausea, and weight loss. Hookworms latch onto the insides of your intestines
and suck out the blood. Which can lead to anemia, slower cognitive growth, and malnutrition.
And whipworm, which in heavy infestations cause intestinal problems like diarrhea and
dysentery. Yet probably the most dreaded worm is the
nasty Guinea worm. A worm so heinous, that President Jimmy Carter led the fight to eliminate
it in 1986. When Carter’s quest first begin, there were around 3.5 million cases in the
world. Last year, there were only 22. So pretty successful campaign. The worms typically get
into your body by drinking contaminated water. Horrifically, the worms will later crawl out
of your skin, typically in the legs. And it CAN TAKE DAYS TO PULL THEM OUT. DAYS. When
leaving the body, the wounds they create can sometimes lead to deadly infections. So I
agree with Jimmy Carter and say good riddance to these guys. But how do our bodies not get
rid of them? I mean, humans evolved with some of these
parasites for at least 10,000 years according to a study published in the journal Science
Translational Medicine. We might even have a symbiotic relationship with them. They scratch
our backs, we scratch theirs. Or more like, we give them a home and food and they calm
down our immune systems. Seriously there’s evidence. Well one study published in the journal Nature
found that some parasitic worms actually change our immune systems. And according to the book,
“The Th2 Type Immune Response in Health and Disease“ several studies in mice show
that parasitic worms suppress the immune system. They promote certain populations of regulatory
cells in the body called Tregs and B regulatory cells. These cells play important roles in
reducing the severity of autoimmune diseases and allergic inflammation. By dampening down
the immune systems, the worms won’t be attacked, while at the same time, the mice get a break
from allergies and other autoimmune diseases. As for how parasitic worms affect humans well,
that’s more complicated because infected humans with parasitic worms doesn’t seem
like that fundable of a study. But that didn’t stop one guy. A case study
published in journal Science Translational Medicine found that one person voluntarily
infected himself with Human whipworm and claimed it successfully treated his ulcerative colitis.
Basically the worms lowered uncomfortable gut inflammation and promoted mucus production,
which is important for healing. One of the authors of the paper told NPR that other studies
suggest parasites keep the immune system in check and “prevent it from going wild and
attacking healthy tissue.” While that’s just one guy, another recent
study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that hookworms
reduced the symptoms of celiac disease, another autoimmune disease. So while parasitic worms
seem pretty nasty, okay they are really nasty and have caused a lot of a harm, maybe by
keeping our immune systems in check,so they can continue to live inside of us, they actually
give us a little benefit too. Gross. If you don’t find it all that gross why
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While I’m not going to go around popping worm pills to treat my allergies, it does
make us stop and think. Maybe we’re living too cleanly. In fact that’s the premise
of the hygiene hypothesis, that figures our modern cleanliness might be giving us allergies.
To find out more check out this episode, right here. So have you ever had a parasite infection?
Tell us about it down in the comments below

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