There are 6 commonly used parasite tests. By comparing all 6, there is 1 parasite test that is most accurate for diagnosing parasitic infections.
Here are the 4 things you want to look for when evaluating your parasite test:
Now we’ll go through each of the 6 tests – ranking them from worst to best:
An endoscopy/colonoscopy involves sticking a small camera down your throat or up through your colon. Your gastroenterologist can look at a live video of your colon, or your stomach and small intestine.
If your doctor spots a parasitic worm (helminth) in your intestines, then your doctor can diagnose a parasite infection.
Range of parasites: Your doctor can only see large parasites with this method of diagnosis. Most parasites are microscopic – and can’t be seen without magnification or other methods.
Accuracy: If your doctor can visually see a parasite wriggling around in your intestines, then you definitely have a parasite infection.
Differentiating Old and New Infections: Your doctor will only be able to see current infections.
Convenience: A colonscopy/endoscopy can only be performed with special equipment in a doctors office. Additionally, patients have to undergo uncomfortable bowel prep by taking a strong laxative.
I would personally not rely on a colonoscopy or endoscopy for complete diagnosis of parasite infections. Many parasites are invisible without staining and magnification, so it won’t diagnose any parasites except the largest ones.
Click here to read our more in-depth analysis of the endoscopy/colonoscopy parasite test.
The blood smear tests are very important for diagnosing blood-borne parasites. However, only certain parts of the world are endemic with these types of parasites. For example, the parasites that cause malaria and sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis) would be diagnosed by a blood smear test. But unless you’ve been travelling to parts of the world where these types of parasites are endemic, these blood smears would not be helpful in finding parasites.
So the accuracy of this test is very high, but the range of parasites is too limited for it to be useful for most people reading this website. Therefore I would not rate this as useful for most people. Be sure to refer to the CDC website to see if you’re travelling to a place that is endemic with blood borne parasites.
In this test, blood is drawn (or saliva collected) and then tested for antigens and antibodies that are specific to certain parasites. While this is a relatively painless procedure, it has some serious drawbacks.
Here are the drawbacks:
The saliva test is convenient, but it has the same limitations as the blood test. Worse still, it may show you aren’t infected with a parasite, even if you currently are infected.
This test is quite amazing and can give testing results very quickly (as fast as 24 hours). Essentially the technician takes a stool sample, puts it into a machine, and it tells you which parasite DNA it has found.
According to my teacher Emma Lane of Integrative Health in the UK, PCR has a strong future in parasite testing. But, she also says that it isn’t the ideal way to test for parasites today.
There are serious drawbacks to using PCR technology in its current state:
Click to read in depth article about PCR parasite testing.
This test, also known as microscopy, takes some feces, processes it, concentrates it, stains it, and then places it onto a microscope slide.
A technician then looks at the feces through a microscope and visually inspects and records what parasites, and parasite eggs (called ova) they observe.
In our high tech world, this “manual” method of parasite detection seems out of place. But when it comes to real world parasite infections, this is typically the most effective and reliable test for the following reasons:
While this test is by far my favorite, it can also be very misleading if the technicians are inexperienced or trained poorly. Since my teacher Emma Lane works with many people with parasite infections, she needed to find the best laboratory that would give her:
In summary, here’s how I would rate each of the tests:
Unless you’ve been travelling to a place that has malaria or other blood borne parasitic diseases, the stool test (Parasite and Ova) stool test is the best.
If the lab tech is skilled and experienced, the parasite and ova test:
Click here to learn about the best home parasite stool test kit
Evan Jerkunica, Parasites.org's founder is happy to help. To get your questions answered, you can: