Round worms are parasites which use the human body as a host to develop from the eggs into adult worms and replicate. An adult worm can be more than a foot long.
Ascariasis is the commonest round worm infection. Most people have mild cases of ascariasis; hence they have no symptoms. However, when the body gets infested with hundreds of roundworms, severe symptoms and complications develop.
By and large, the infiltration occurs in children and is predominant in tropical areas, particularly where the hygiene level is poor.
What Causes Roundworms In Humans?
To contract roundworm infestation, one has to come in contact with soil mixed with human feces which contain the roundworm eggs. In most developing countries, human feces are used as fertilizer; or poor sanitation allows human waste to mix with local soil.
Infection occurs inadvertently when you ingest contaminated soil via hand-to-mouth contact or eating uncooked, contaminated, unwashed fruits and vegetables grown in contaminated soil.
Children often play in dirt, thus, infection occurs when they put dirty fingers in their mouths. Unwashed vegetables and fruits grown in contaminated soil transmit the eggs as well. The worms mature and mate in the intestine, and you eject the eggs in feces.
Symptoms Of Roundworms In Humans
Most people have no symptoms at all. Moderate to severe infestation produces clinical symptoms:
In the lungs: After ingestion, the eggs hatch in the small intestine and the larvae travel via the blood or lymphatic system into the lungs. At this stage, you will experience:
- Constant cough
After staying for 6 to 10 days in the lungs, the larvae journey to the throat, where you cough them up and swallow them.
In the intestines: The larvae mature into adult in the small intestine, and the adult live in the intestines till they die. Intestinal infestation results in:
- Ambiguous to severe pain in the abdomen.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Diarrhea or bloody stools.
- Weight loss and fatigue.
- Worm in stool or vomit.
How To Get Rid Of Roundworms In Humans?
In case you have no symptoms, typically you do not need any treatment plan. In most cases of round worm infestation, ascariasis resolves on its own. This occurs when there are no male worms to mate with the female worms, and the females in due course die. However, those with severe infection and too may clinical features need proper treatment and management of the round worms.
Anti-parasite drugs are the first line of treatment against round worm infestation. The most commonly prescribed drugs are:
These anti parasite drugs work by killing the adult worms. Each medication is administered as a single dose. Side effects include mild pain in the abdomen or diarrhea. It is always advisable to confer with your health care provider about the drug and its dosage before embarking on treatment.
In cases of severe round worm infestation, surgical intervention becomes imperative to heal the damage the roundworms have caused and to get rid of the worms as well. Intestinal obstruction, bile duct obstruction, perforation of the gut and appendicitis are complications that could occur and need surgery.