Tapeworm infections - Symptoms 

Symptoms of a tapeworm infection 

People are often unaware they have a tapeworm infection. They may have no symptoms or very few symptoms, which are usually general.

Symptoms of a tapeworm infection

If you are infected with an adult tapeworm, you may see larvae (newly hatched worms) or segments from the tapeworm in your stools (poo). The segments contain tapeworm eggs.

Depending on the type of tapeworm, other symptoms could include:

  • pain above the stomach or in the abdomen (tummy)
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • dizziness
  • insomnia
  • fits
  • malnutrition

Infection with beef or pork tapeworms can cause an increase in appetite.

In rare cases, infection with the fish tapeworm can cause vitamin B12 deficiency, because the worm absorbs this vitamin. You need vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, so a deficiency can lead to anaemia (a reduced number of red blood cells).

Symptoms of a tapeworm larvae infection

Some types of tapeworm may not develop into the adult form in the intestine. Instead, their larvae (newly hatched worms) burrow through your intestine wall and enter your bloodstream. Then they can travel to, and settle in, other places around your body.

The symptoms of a tapeworm larvae infection vary, depending on the type of tapeworm, how severe the infection is and which part of the body is affected.

For example, the symptoms could include:

  • discomfort or pain in the abdomen (tummy)
  • coughing or pain in the lungs caused by an abscess
  • headaches
  • fever 
  • jaundice

Page last reviewed: 22/05/2012

Next review due: 22/05/2014

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