One of our readers sent us a photo of four Q-tips. On each Q-tip there is a small, brown organism. Our reader wants to know what these creatures are, and if they are parasites. From the photo alone, we cannot determine if the small specimens are parasites or not. He didn’t explain where he found the creatures, which would be a helpful clue. Did he remove them from his stool? Did he find them in his bed? Were they crawling on his body? We don’t know.
Since we are not medical professionals and are not licensed to give medical advice, we cannot weigh in on this topic very much. We recommend that our reader make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. He should bring samples of the specimens with him to the appointment so that the doctor can have a look at them.
There are two types of intestinal parasites that humans may become infected with: helminths and protozoa. Helminths are worms with many cells, like tapeworms, pinworms, and roundworms. In their adult form, they cannot multiply inside the human body. Protozoa have one cell, and can multiply inside the human body, which can lead to serious infections. Giardia is a common protozoa intestinal parasite in the United States. Many people become infected with it after drinking contaminated water.
Some parasites can live in the intestine of a host for years without causing any noticeable symptoms. However, some people do experience symptoms when they are infected with a parasite. A few of the symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, gas, and weight loss. Our reader should make a list of any symptoms he has and bring it to the doctor, along with the specimen sample.
To sum up, a reader wants to know if the brown specimens he found are parasites. We don’t feel comfortable answering this question because we aren’t medical professionals. We encourage our reader to see a doctor immediately.