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Worms – Causes And Symptoms of Intestinal Worms

How often do you find your child waking up from sleep, complaining of severe itching ? Is he having intolerable itching at his genital and anal regions ? Are you feeling fatigue finding no genuine reason to it ? Are you anemic despite of eating all nutritious food and maintaining a healthy life ? Then the answer is intestinal worms.

These parasitic worms are transmitted into human bodies through contaminated water and food. These small intestinal worms are usually invisible to the naked eyes, which makes their entry into our body easier. The entry and expansion of kingship in your body would take some time for the worm. Following its establishment and expansion, discomfort and illness will be felt.The severity and extent of illness differ in each person. But worms inside intestines can be very serious if left untreated, these can also cause fatal results.

Causes of Intestinal Worms

The prime causes of worm infection in our body depend on the sanitation around us and the extent of hygiene we maintain. Living in a clean environment, eating healthy food, practising good hygiene habits are a few ways to overcome the chances of worm infection. The most common cause is consuming food and water that is contaminated. The mode of infection is different in each worm.

Types of Intestinal Worms

The body of a human being is capable of harboring many types of intestinal worms. A few may be harmless in action, while others may cause significant illness and discomfort. The range of symptoms depends on the type of worm present inside your body. The primary intestinal worms which can cause severe detrimental effects on human health are as follows -

  • Pinworms
    These worms are small in size and reside in the intestine. Intense itching at vaginal (genital) or anal areas is a typical symptom of pinworms in our body. The pinworms enter the body through those body openings. The itching gets more severe at night. The symptoms get more severe during the night because this is the time when the female worm lays her egg outside the vagina or anus. Her movement results in the itching. Sharing the same toilet seat with an infected person is a common mode of spreading infection. The touch through bedding and fingernails can also transfer the infection to a healthy person. The mode of infection is mostly the ingestion of the eggs of the worms.
  • Tapeworm
    The symptom of weight loss is a major sign of tapeworm latching in the intestines. Undercooked meats from infected animals are mostly the cause of spreading the tapeworm inside the human body. The infection with tapeworm is named as Taeniasis. Two main types of tapeworms cause infection in humans. These are

    • beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata)
    • pork tapeworm (Taenia solium)

    Generally the meat taken from an infected animal must be cooked properly. But when it is left uncooked, the worm cysts get ingested by humans. Once the worm enters the body, it attaches to the small intestine producing segments. These segments are called proglottids. These proglottids hold the eggs. When these detach from the main tapeworm, these are passed out in the human feces. The cattle and pigs when get in contact with these faces, they get infected. This is how the tapeworm cycle runs.

  • Hookworm
    In the US, contracting hookworms is rare. This is because the sanitation methods at the US is normally clean and hygienic. But these are most prevalent among the tropic cultures, causing maximum deaths in children, due to less sanitation. The larvae of the hookworm flourishes in unsanitary conditions and easily enters the skin to infect the body. Swallowing unsanitary water can also make an easy entry for these worms into our body. The most common way of contracting hookworm is walking barefoot through the contaminated soil. Two types of hookworms are found in humans. These are

    • Ancylostoma duodenale
    • Necator americanus

    The symptoms of a hookworm infection starts with an itchy rash. This rash is generally caused at the place where the hookworm penetrated the body. Following the entry, the worm establishes itself in the intestines. Then the patient starts developing signs of gas, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. In sever cases, it may also lead to iron deficiency anemia.

  • Flatworms
    Water pollution causes the flatworms to flourish. The flatworms are mostly unsegmented and spread their eggs through sources of water. An infection with this worm can even cause death.
  • Whipworms
    The long whipworms derived their name from their whip-like shape. When human feces is deposited in the soil, the whipworms spread through this. Eggs are ingested when any portion of eatable comes in contact with the infected mass of soil. The eggs latch onto the food items very easily. The whipworm infection is the third most common infection occurring in humans. The most common signs of severe whipworm infection include bloody diarrhoea, anemia and growth retardation.
  • Heartworms
    When it comes to heartworms, mosquitoes are the culprits. When a mosquito feeds on an infected person, it stores the infected blood in it and transfers the infection to a healthy person when it feeds on the healthy person.
  • Toxocara Worm
    The toxocara worm spreads its infection through its eggs. When these eggs are dropped by the feces of the dogs and cats, the children and adults staying around get infected. Besides, ingestion, skin contact is sufficient for the entry of these eggs. This worm spreads from animals to humans, hence called zoonotic disease. The infection is named as toxocariasis. These can cause the following diseases in humans.

    • Ocular larva migrans (OLM) – causing vision problem
    • Visceral larva migrans (VLM) – damage of organs through which the larva pass.
  • Strongyloides
    The infection in strongyloides is almost like that in hookworm. It spreads through direct contact with contaminated soil. The adult form of the worm resides in the small intestine. Most infected persons do not show any symptoms. While a few may complain of diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting or loss of appetite. In rare cases of severity, body organs may be damaged.
  • Trichinosis
    The classic form of trichinosis develops when the Trichinella spiralis, a roundworm is ingested. This worm is mostly ingested through an undercooked meat (pork products). The worm cysts release larva after ingestion. These larva burrow into the small intestine. When these larva grows into adult, it migrates to other parts of the body such as muscle and joints causing pain in muscles and joints. It is also a predominant reason of abdominal pain.

Symptoms of Worms in humans

The severity of symptoms of intestinal worms range from no symptoms to mild itching and severe pain to damage to body organs. We have already discussed above, the various signs and symptoms of different worms causing infection in our body. Let us see a few of the symptoms caused in humans due to intestinal worm infection in humans.

  • Weight Loss - Most people ignore unintentional loss of weight. But unexplained loss of weight is the first sign of food sharing with worms in your body.
  • Itching - When intestinal parasites squirm around the genital area and the anal area, they cause severe itching in those parts. This is because of local skin irritation caused by the worms.
  • Stomach Pain – Frequent feeling of stomach pain due to gas is a common sign of worm infestation. But this sign can also be caused with other conditions like – ulcers, irritable bowel or food intolerance.
  • Diarrhea or Constipation – Intermittent episodes of diarrhoea or constipation is a frequently common sign of worm invading your body. Foul smelling bowel movements can also be felt along the episodes of diarrhoea and constipation. But these symptoms cannot be taken as a diagnostic symptom.

Besides these, a few other common signs of worms present in our body can be observed. These include -

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Bad or smelly breath
  • Frequent urge to have food
  • Feeling restless at night
  • Waking from sleep due to bad dreams or strong itching in private parts
  • Anemia despite of having proper food
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Inflammation of intestines

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