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How long till tapeworms go away?

Tapeworms are parasitic flatworms that live in the intestines of humans and animals. They are acquired by ingesting food or water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae. Once inside the intestines, tapeworms can grow quite large, up to 30 feet long in some cases! Tapeworms absorb nutrients through their skin and can live for years in the intestines if not treated. While tapeworm infections may cause only mild symptoms or none at all, it is important to get treatment and get rid of them. So how long does it take for tapeworms to go away after treatment? Let’s take a closer look.

How are tapeworms treated?

There are several drug treatment options for tapeworm infections:

  • Praziquantel – This is the most common tapeworm medication. It is very effective at killing tapeworms and is usually given as a single dose. Praziquantel causes the tapeworm to loosen its grip on the intestines and dissolve.
  • Albendazole – This is another common tapeworm drug that can be used alone or together with praziquantel. It works to weaken the tapeworm so it detaches from the intestines.
  • Nitazoxanide – This medication is sometimes used for certain types of tapeworms. It works by blocking tapeworm metabolism.

The specific medication and dosage will depend on the type of tapeworm, as well as the person’s age and health status. Often these drugs are very effective when given in a single dose, but a second dose may be prescribed after 2-4 weeks to help ensure the tapeworm is completely gone.

How soon do tapeworms die after medication?

Tapeworm medication works fairly quickly to start killing the worms. Here’s a timeline of what happens after taking tapeworm medication:

Within 4-6 hours

The tapeworm medication begins to take effect, causing the tapeworms to loosen their hold on the intestine walls. The tapeworms become paralyzed and destabilized. They may start to lose segments containing eggs.

Within 12-24 hours

Most of the tapeworm has detached from the intestines and is dissolved. As the worms break down, you may pass worm segments, eggs, or other debris in your stool. This is a sign the medication is working.

Within 1-3 days

Over this time period, the medication will finish killing any remaining tapeworms. All parts of the worms should be completely cleared from your intestines.

So while the medication starts working quickly to weaken and paralyze the tapeworms, it takes 1-3 days for the worms to fully die and be eliminated from the body. Some sources recommend purging the intestines with a laxative a few hours after taking tapeworm medication to help quickly flush out the decomposing worms.

When are you tapeworm free?

It takes approximately 3-6 weeks after completing tapeworm treatment for your doctor to consider you totally tapeworm free. Here’s why:

  • Tapeworms have a 3-6 week lifespan. After treatment, there may be remaining eggs still in the intestines that have yet to hatch and grow. It takes 3-6 weeks for any eggs or larvae to mature and be detectable.
  • Follow up testing is needed to confirm the tapeworms are gone. Your doctor may recommend a second stool test 3-6 weeks after treatment to look for any new eggs.
  • Some tapeworm medications only kill adult worms, not always eggs. It may take a second dose 3-6 weeks later to kill any newly hatched worms.

So while the medication kills the adult tapeworms within 1-3 days, it takes about 3-6 weeks to be confident any remaining eggs or larvae have been cleared from your system. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for any follow up testing or medications.

How to speed up removal of tapeworms

While tapeworm medication takes 1-3 days to kill the worms, there are some things you can do to help speed up the removal of tapeworms from your body:

  • Take a laxative or stool softener. This helps flush out the decomposing worms more quickly.
  • Drink lots of water and fluids like broths. Staying hydrated helps expel the worms.
  • Avoid fatty, greasy foods. Stick to light foods like broth, rice, applesauce and toast.
  • Limit dairy initially. Lactose can cause cramping when your intestines are irritated.
  • Try digestive enzymes or papaya seeds. These may help break down worm segments faster.
  • Use ginger, garlic, pumpkin seeds or pomegranate. These foods have anti-parasitic properties.
  • Avoid strenuous activity at first. Rest allows your body to focus on expelling the worms.

Following your doctor’s treatment plan closely while supporting your body’s ability to eliminate the dead worms can help speed up recovery.

Timeline Summary

Here is a quick summary of the timeline for how long it takes tapeworms to go away after medical treatment:

  • Within 4-6 hours – Medication takes effect, tapeworms detached
  • 12-24 hours – Most of tapeworm dissolved and passed
  • 1-3 days – All adult tapeworms killed and eliminated
  • 3-6 weeks – Eggs and larvae gone, complete removal

So while you’ll start to see results within a day, it takes 1-3 days to fully clear the worms, and 3-6 weeks to be sure any remaining eggs are gone too. Be patient but proactive with follow up care during the process. Stay in close contact with your doctor to ensure the tapeworms are fully eliminated.

Can you prevent reinfection?

Once your tapeworm infection has cleared following treatment, you’ll want to take steps to avoid getting infected again in the future:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before eating or handling food
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables very well
  • Only drink clean water from sealed bottles or boiled
  • Avoid undercooked meat or seafood
  • Don’t eat raw or unwashed vegetables
  • Clean up thoroughly after pets and avoid contact with feces

Practicing good hygiene and only eating properly cooked foods can help prevent ingesting tapeworm eggs or larvae again. Getting pets routinely dewormed is also important.

Some tips specific to certain tapeworm species:

  • Beef and pork tapeworms – Cook meat to 145°F and freeze for 1-2 weeks.
  • Fish tapeworms – Avoid raw or undercooked fish.
  • Rodent tapeworms – Prevent mice/rats and clean up all droppings.

Following food safety guidelines tailored to the type of tapeworm you had can help reduce reinfection risk. Speak to your doctor if you suspect you may have been re-exposed.

When to seek emergency care

In most cases, tapeworm infections are not emergencies. However, seek prompt medical care if you experience:

  • Rash or swelling of the throat, trouble breathing – may indicate allergic reaction
  • Severe cramping, bloating or nausea – could signal intestinal blockage
  • Vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than 2 days – can lead to dehydration
  • Weakness, fatigue, weight loss – possible sign of severe malnutrition
  • Cysts in organs away from the intestines – tapeworms migrated

Though rare, complications like spreading infection, intestinal blockage or vitamin deficiencies can occur. Seek emergency treatment if you have severe symptoms or the infection seems to progress.

When to see a doctor

You should always consult a doctor to diagnose a tapeworm infection and get appropriate treatment. See your doctor promptly if:

  • You pass worm segments, eggs or larvae in your stool
  • You saw worm parts crawl out of your anus
  • You have unexplained nausea, diarrhea, cramping or appetite changes
  • You ate raw or undercooked meat/fish known to have tapeworms
  • Follow up testing after treatment shows eggs still present

Catching and treating a tapeworm infection early is important to prevent complications. Even if symptoms seem minor, seek medical advice so the proper medications can be prescribed.


Tapeworm infections definitely aren’t pleasant, but the good news is they can be effectively treated with prescription medications. While it may take 3-6 weeks to consider a tapeworm fully eliminated after treatment, most people start to feel better within 1-3 days as the worms are dissolved and expelled from the body. Seek prompt medical treatment at the first sign of infection. Then be diligent about follow up care and tapeworm prevention strategies to avoid dealing with this nuisance again!