Is It Natural?
The intestinal worms or also known as parasitic worms are in the body of humans naturally. They are simple organisms that depend on the human body for food. Normally many people know about tapeworms and hookworms but there are nearly 300 species of parasitic worms.
The human body has been a host for many parasitic worms that are derived from ancestors while some of it are acquired from domesticated animals, especially pigs. According to a study, the statistics shows that around 80 percent of adults and children have parasitic worms in their stomach and they could have been infected through many ways but the common infection is the feces oral way.
Worms and Stools
The parasitic worms can be detected in stools and it will look like small pieces of white cotton thread and they are nor easily detected due their size and white color. The male parasitic worm normally remains inside the intestine and it is rarely seen.
But the rest of the parasitic worms normally come out at night time while children are asleep and it can be noticed around the child’s bottom at the anus. The child might feel itchiness around the anus because the female parasitic worm will deposit its eggs around the anus at night.
Common Symptoms of Worms
The general symptoms of an infected person are stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, gas or bloating, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, tenderness, dysentery (loose stools containing blood and mucus), rash and itching around the rectum or vulva, feeling weak, fever and feeling tired.
Sometimes people will pass a worm in their stool during a bowel movement and at times many will not notice any symptoms for years. The most popular roundworm that infects nearly 20 million to 42 million people in the United States, especially the children, are the pinworms.
Causes of Worms
Usually people get worms by swallowing the worms or their microscopic eggs with their fingers. All other possible ways of getting infected with intestinal worms depending on its type are; consumption of undercooked meat of an infected animal such as cow, goat, pig, or fish; drinking contaminated water; eating contaminated soil; direct contact with contaminated faces, poor sanitation and poor hygiene.
Roundworms are normally infected by contact with contaminated soil and feces. Some worms can go through the skin pores because they are tiny and microscopic. Sometimes people get worms when an infected insect bites them.
Once the contaminated substance is swallowed, the parasite travels into the intestine to reproduce and grow. The symptoms may appear once the eggs hatch, reproduce and mature into adult worms in number and size.
Children are at high risk of contracting worms because they are exposed to contaminated soils at playgrounds, school activity areas, sandboxes and outside. While adults are susceptible to worms because of their weak immune systems and pregnant women are also at risk from hookworm disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) have published reports that nearly 10 percent of people from the developing world are at increased risk to develop worms. It is due to lack of access to potable water, poor hygiene, illiteracy, and poverty.
Traveling out of the country and experiencing the symptoms listed above require medical attention and worm infestation can be diagnosed by learning about the clinical history and special tests.
The doctor might order for a fecal or stool test the stool samples are examined to find the presence of parasites. Another test will be the “Scotch tape” test, where the anus will be applied with the scotch tape a few times to get eggs of the pinworm which can be identified by the microscope.
In case there is no evidence of parasites in the stools, a colonoscopy will be helpful if the patient has diarrhea. Apart from that, a blood test will also provide answers by looking for antibodies that are produced when there is parasite infection. Additionally depending on the extent or location of infection's the doctor also may order X-ray or imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
A strong system coupled with a healthy diet and lifestyle is good enough for some types of intestinal worms to go away naturally. An anti-parasitic medication helps those who are infected by intestinal worms. In case the symptoms gets serious such as having blood or pus in the stool, frequent daily vomiting, increasing body temperature, feeling fatigue and dehydrated then it is advisable to meet a healthcare provider
The plan for treatment will depend on the worm type and symptoms. Oral medication such as praziquantel or biltricide are usually used to treat infection which paralyzes the adult tapeworm and causes it to get detached from the stomach and get dissolved in the stool.
Normally roundworm infections are treated using mebendazole or vermox or emverm and albendazole or albenza. After a few weeks of treatment, the symptoms will begin to improve and another stool sample analysis after treatment will give a prognosis.
The risk for anemia and intestinal blockages can get aggravated by worms; the complications might occur frequently in older adults and those with suppressed immune systems such as HIV or AIDS.
Pregnant women also will face an elevated risk of worm infections. The choice of anti-parasitic medication therapy during pregnancy will depend on the risk and effect to the pregnancy and whether it is safe to be used and the treatment will be closely monitored.
Regular hand washing with soap and warm water before and after toilet usage, food preparation or eating foods are highly recommended for worm prevention. You can also practice food safety by not eating raw fish and meat and make sure they are thoroughly cooked at the right temperature–145°F (62.8°C) for whole strips of meat and 160°F (71°C) for ground beef, turkey, pork, veal, lamb, goat meat, and poultry.
Before carving or consuming cooked meat, it is good to wait for three minutes. Apart from that, freezing fish or meat to –4°F (–20°C) for at least 24 hours is able to kill the eggs. All raw fruits and vegetables are to be washed, peeled or cooked. In the case of any food that falls on the floor, make sure it is washed or reheated.
Visiting developing countries will prove to be a challenge so make sure to cook vegetables and food with boiled or purified water and try to avoid human feces contaminated soil.