Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Tapeworms are a parasite usually obtained by eating undercooked meat or fish. It cannot be spread from individual to individual. Usually it is acquired when traveling to a foreign country; it is uncommon in the United States. It can be detected through a stool sample examined in a laboratory.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Many times individuals don’t have any symptoms. However, they should be checked for tapeworms if they have recently traveled outside the United States and then have the following symptoms and signs: diarrhea, pain in the upper abdomen, unexplained weight loss, or anemia.

Your doctor will prescribe a drug to kill the parasite. One dose is usually all that is required. A repeat stool specimen should be examined in 3–6 weeks to make sure you are cured. There are no restrictions in activity or your diet. You may have side effects from the medication such as headache, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Stomach upset can be lessened by taking the medication with food.

The DOs
• Take the medication as directed.
• Have a follow-up examination in 3–6 weeks.
• Have all family members checked for the infection.
• Avoid undercooked meat and fish.
• Buy only meats that have been inspected.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t skip your follow-up examination.
• Don’t eat undercooked meats or fish while traveling in a foreign country.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If you have any symptoms after treatment.