Tape worms
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
June 1, 2024 ·  3 min read

How Do You Know If You Have a Tape Worm? (Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options)

Tapeworms are a type of intestinal parasite that can cause mild symptoms or sometimes no symptoms at all. These parasites can lead to various complications if left untreated. In this article, we will explore what tapeworms are, how one can get infected, common symptoms of tapeworm infestation, rare complications associated with tapeworms, available treatment options, and preventive measures to lower the risk of tapeworm infection.

Understanding Tapeworms

Parasites under microscope and woman suffering from helminthiasis, closeup
Source: Shutterstock

Tapeworms are parasites that live in the intestines of animals and humans. They can grow up to 30 feet in length and consist of multiple segments, each capable of producing eggs. Tapeworms are commonly found in beef, pork, fish, and other sources of undercooked or raw meat. The various types of tapeworms, such as Taenia saginata, Taenia solium, and Taenia asiatica, can cause stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and weight loss. However, tapeworm larvae can lead to severe complications when they develop outside the intestines, affecting organs like the brain, liver, muscles, and lungs. (1)

Read More: Global Warming and Mind-Eating Parasites Could Be Creating World-Wide Intelligence Gap

How Do You Get A Tapeworm?

Natural raw dog food in bowl on black wooden background Meat fish eggs vegetables bones organic food supplement
Source: Shutterstock

Tapeworm infection, also known as Taeniasis, occurs when individuals consume undercooked or raw meat or fish containing tapeworm eggs. The eggs hatch in the intestine, where they mature into adult tapeworms. These adult tapeworms can survive for years, producing eggs and leading to infection. The most common source of tapeworm infection is the ingestion of contaminated food or water. (2)

Symptoms of a tapeworm

Dizzy Woman With Balance Loss. Vertigo Disorder
Source: Shutterstock

The most challenging part of symptoms of tapeworms is that they are generally non-specific. This means that these symptoms could be present for a large number of conditions and health problems. Because of this, diagnosis can take quite some time. The more common symptoms of tapeworms are:

  • Nausea
  • Appetite Changes
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Loss

From there, there are a few other symptoms that may be present as well, but they are less common:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Rare complications

Medical form with diagnosis Cysticercosis in a hospital.
Source: Shutterstock

If left untreated, there are some rare but serious complications that tapeworms can cause. Cysticercosis is a severe complication that can occur when tapeworm larvae (Taenia solium) leave the intestines and form cysts in different parts of the body. This condition can affect organs like the brain, skin, muscles, or eyes, leading to symptoms such as confusion, balance difficulty, and hydrocephalus. (3) In rare cases, tapeworms can cause blockages in the intestines, pancreas, or bile duct system, necessitating surgical intervention. Blockages in these areas can lead to severe symptoms like stomach pain, vomiting, and loss of appetite. (4)

Read More: Woman’s Grapefruit-Size ‘Liver Cancer’ Tumor was Actually a Giant Parasite

Treatment Options

Albendazole also known as albendazolum white tablet pill of medication used to treat parasitic worm infestations such as giadiasis, trichuriasis, filariasis, neurocysticercosis and pinworm disease
Source: Shutterstock

Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by examining stool samples. Most intestinal tapeworm infections can be effectively treated with antiparasitic oral medications like praziquantel. Infections affecting other parts of the body may require surgical intervention. Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial to prevent complications associated with tapeworm infestations.


Black family, father and child washing hands with clean water in home bathroom. Man teaching girl while cleaning body part for safety, healthcare and bacteria for learning about health and wellness
Source: Shutterstock

The best way to deal with tapeworms is to prevent infection altogether. To lower the risk of tapeworm infection, it is essential to follow preventive measures such as:

  • Washing hands thoroughly before eating and after using the toilet
  • Avoiding the consumption of raw or undercooked meat
  • Separating raw and cooked meat
  • Cooking food to appropriate internal temperatures
  • Drinking clean water and using bottled water if unsure of water safety
  • Deworming pets regularly

The Bottom Line

african american guy with girl lie together with golden retriever in the park in summer, young couple walks and plays with dog in nature, happy family with pet
Source: Shutterstock

Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that can cause a range of symptoms from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to potentially severe complications like cysticercosis. Early detection, proper treatment, and adherence to preventive measures are essential in managing tapeworm infections and reducing the risk of further complications. If you suspect a tapeworm infection or experience related symptoms, seek medical attention promptly for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Read More: 7 Signs Of Intestinal Parasites Living Inside Your Body


  1. About Human Tapeworm.” CDC
  2. Tapeworms.” Study Smarter
  3. About Cysticercosis.” CDC
  4. Tapeworm.” NCBI. Ellen J. Lesh; Mark F. Brady. August 28, 2023.