A reader wrote to us a little while ago about some health problems her mother has been experiencing after a trip to Cuba. She periodically has a burning sensation and is experiencing “a lot of pressure with her bladder.” (The reader doesn’t make clear exactly how these symptoms are manifesting themselves; it is not clear when she suffers from a burning sensation, for instance.) The reader’s mother has been put on six antibiotics, which temporarily alleviate the symptoms, but then the problems return. The reader speculates her mother is suffering from a parasite from Cuba, and that it keeps adapting to the antibiotics her mother is taking. She fears that since her mother has returned home to Canada, doctors won’t be familiar with what is afflicting her. The reader is wondering if we have any advice.
Normally, we like to provide at least some speculation in response to our reader questions, and in almost all cases we are able to. However, such questions are basically always about creatures a reader has found, or a pest-related problem they are facing. When it comes to medical issues, though, we must always emphatically insist that we are not qualified to answer these questions in any satisfying way. Our reader has done the right thing by taking her mother to doctors. Even if they aren’t used to treating patients with parasites from Cuba (if the reader’s mother is even dealing with a parasite), they will still know about treating parasites in general, or they will send you to a person who does. In any case, they know more about the matter than we do, and they speak with greater authority than us. So, our advice to our reader is first and foremost this: seek medical advice and trust that advice over anything someone tells you on the internet.
That said (and emphasized), we can say really only say this: it is unfortunately not uncommon for people to return from foreign environments with parasitical problems. Any time you are confronted with a different environment, new threats are encountered, which explains why so many people become sick shortly after arriving to a new country. (It’s happened to us.) Thus, although it is perhaps not of much comfort, the reader’s problem (or at least variants of it) has afflicted many others. Also, given that this is a fairly common issue, the doctors working with our reader’s mom may be more familiar with foreign ailments than one might suspect.
In this particular instance, we simply can’t say anything else, and it would be improper and irresponsible for us to do otherwise. So, why write anything at all? For one, we can supply the generic information above (because of the caveats we added), and just as importantly, we can broadcast our reader’s concern to whoever comes across this page. Perhaps a reader has experienced a similar problem and can offer some support (although any actual advice should of course be checked with a doctor). Our readers have helped us with questions before and perhaps they can help us again. We wish our reader and her mother the best of luck and hope for a quick solution to the problem.
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