Worms are parasitic worms that live in the intestines or tissues of humans. Most parasites have two hosts - an intermediate host and a terminal host. However, some species of helminths parasitize the body without leaving the body and without entering the environment. Worms are present everywhere. Their greatest numbers are found in countries with warm and humid climates.
Symptoms of intestinal worms depend not only on the type of penetration, but also on the features of its process.
The most common types of parasites
There are seven main types of parasitic worms:
Pinworms are small thread-like worms belonging to the roundworm family. The size of an adult does not exceed 1 mm. In the human body, they live mainly in the large intestine, causing irritation, mucosal damage, intestinal inflammation. Heartworm disease caused by pinworms has an incubation period of about 15 days. Furthermore, a characteristic clinical picture develops. The disease duration is 2 months equal to the survival time of the worm. In fact, there is no independent resolution of the disease, since with helminths there is a mechanism of self-infection.
Note: the symptoms of intestinal worms are rarely obvious. The disease often appears in the form of opacity, without clear diagnostic signs. Suspected filariasis in children occurs if the child complains of itching in the perianal area.
Pinworm infestation occurs when the rules of personal hygiene are not observed. The route of transmission is the fecal-oral route. A person who touches a contaminated surface and then, without washing their hands, ingests helminth eggs. Similarly, reinfection with intestinal spirochetes also occurs. Patients with itching around the anus should scratch the itch, then proceed to eat. Worm eggs fall into the hand and are swallowed in the stomach. The life cycle of the parasite begins again.
Roundworms are monomeric roundworms that live in the small intestine of humans and animals. The length of the female helminth is 40 cm. The size of the male is much smaller. Its length usually does not exceed 25 cm. The distinguishing feature of the male is the pointed end of the body.
The life cycle of roundworms is somewhat more complicated than that of pinworms. The route of infection is the fecal-oral route. Worms eggs fall into the hands of people when working with soil and earthen objects. In the stomach, a young larva emerges from the egg, which penetrates the bloodstream with the help of hooks. This is where it grows and migrates. By the time the larva enters the lung, it has reached a state that allows development into a sexually mature individual. The patient coughs up larvae, which are then swallowed, enter the intestines, and turn into adult roundworms.
Vlasoglav is a species of roundworm in the nematode group. It is a parasite that lives in the large intestine of humans and domestic animals. Outwardly, the helminth resembles a thin light gray thread of various thicknesses. The front part of the whip is thin and long. The back is thickened and shortened. These are internal organs. The body length of flagellates does not differ depending on the sex and is 3-5 cm.
Roundworm eggs, already parasitic in the host body, enter the environment with feces. Here they mature and become invasive. A person becomes infected through the fecal-oral route if the rules of personal hygiene are not observed. The flagellate larvae enter the intestine, grow, feed on the microflora and develop. Then the young individuals of the helminths migrate into the large intestine. trichuriasis develops.
Tapeworms are tapeworms, sometimes up to 25 meters long. The most famous representatives of this genus of parasites are:
- beef tapeworm;
- pork tapeworm;
- wide band.
The body structure of all tapeworm species is similar. They have a head, neck, and body consisting of several segments. Segments located near the end of the body have a uterus filled with eggs. They are separated from the tapeworm and passed out in the feces.
As a rule, the life cycle of tapeworms implies the presence of two hosts - an intermediate host and a final host. The intermediate host may vary depending on the type of worm. A person becomes infected by ingesting larvae present in undercooked meat or fish.
Echinococcus is the smallest extant tapeworm species. Its length is 2-8 mm. An adult individual has a dragonfly, a neck and 3-4 segments. It lives in the intestines of carnivores of the canine family. The intermediate host can be a herbivore or a human. Helminth eggs fall on the hands when in contact with the official host or when collecting wild berries containing echinococcus eggs.
When an egg is ingested, a person becomes an intermediate host. In his body, the larvae enter the blood vessels, following the bloodstream they are carried to the organs and tissues, where they settle and transform into Finn - a fluid-filled bubble and filled withdragonfly of the parasite. In this case, Finn can reach a large size, resulting in compression of organs and tissues. Particularly dangerous is the localization of coccidioid cysts in the brain, liver and lungs.
Schistisomes is a helminth of the flatworm family of flatworms. They have mouth and belly suckers. Females are slightly longer than males. The final hosts of the schistosome are humans and mammals. The helminths are deposited in the small vessels of the large intestine, small pelvis and bladder. The eggs of the parasite are released into the bloodstream, filtered by the kidneys, and excreted in the urine.
Parasitic larvae that have fallen into a freshwater reservoir will enter the mollusk's body, where they continue their development cycle. After 6-8 weeks, the embryos again enter open water, where they turn into larvae with tails that can enter the human body through intact skin. As a rule, infection in humans develops when swimming in open water, washing clothes in it or coming into contact with open water.
Filariae are thread-like roundworms. There are about 8 varieties of filaria parasitic in the human body. The intermediate host and carrier are blood-sucking insects. Infection in humans occurs when insect bites and helminth larvae penetrate the upper layers of the skin.
The distribution of larvae in the host body eventually occurs hematogenously. Worms spread throughout the body, colonizing organs and tissues, causing allergic reactions, swelling of the affected area, lymphadenopathy, proliferation of endothelial cells.
How to identify worms at home
It is possible to assume the presence of worms in the body by one or another characteristic feature. In addition, for the rapid diagnosis of helminthiasis, a special test has been developed, which includes several questions.
Signs of the presence of parasites in the body
Signs of worms in the body of an adult directly depend on the type of penetration.
- Enterobiosis - anal itching, insomnia, restlessness, dyspepsia, diarrhea, loss of appetite, right side abdominal pain, flatulence, false defecation.
- Ascariasis - vomiting, pain above the navel, dry cough, nausea, trouble breathing, ascariasis or ascariasis eggs in the stool, wheezing, fever.
- Trichuriasis - flatulence, vomiting, stools with blood and mucus, mental retardation, abdominal pain, weight loss, anemia.
- Invasion of tapeworm - for a long time it is asymptomatic. Thereafter, intermittent abdominal pain, decreased hemoglobin in the blood, indigestion, diarrhea, and unexplained weight loss.
- Echinococcus - the symptoms of a parasitic infection that form in Finland depend on which organs are affected. With the development of an echinococcal cyst in the brain, neurological symptoms occur. With liver damage, patients complain of pain in the right side, jaundice, deterioration in general health and violations of digestive processes.
- Schistosomiasis - weight loss, abdominal pain, dizziness, hepatomegaly, enlarged spleen, hematuria, fever, anemia, skin edema, urinary stones, dry cough, difficult defecation.
- Heartworm disease - an increase in the lymph nodes, increased body temperature, weakness, headache, bloody urine, stiff movements, an increase in certain parts of the body, swelling of the skin, watery eyes.
Note: Most of the symptoms described are nonspecific and can occur with many other diseases.
Check for parasites
This test allows you to assess the possibility of a helminth infection. When passing an answer, you should use answer options such as "yes", "no", "sometimes". For each "yes" answer, 2 points are awarded, for "no" answers - 0 points. The answer "sometimes" requires a point.
- Are you pregnant?
- Have pale skin, gums?
- Is there persistent anemia unresponsive to drug therapy?
- Pain or discomfort in the abdomen?
- Is discomfort common?
- Stool disorder?
- Is it heavy on the right side?
- Frequent headaches?
- Cyclic cough?
- Intermittent tingling in large joints?
- Sudden loss of vision?
- Teeth grinding while sleeping?
- Eating large amounts of food while still feeling hungry?
- Frequent allergies?
- Is there swelling?
- Performance drop?
- Chronic diseases?
- Abdominal pain intermittently?
- Signs of blood infection?
- Anal itching?
- Do family members have similar symptoms?
A negative test can be considered as a test where no more than 6 points. The probability of aggression exists in those who score between 6 and 17 points. People who score between 17 and 24 on the test are almost certainly infected with another type of worm. With an index of 24 to 42 points, one can talk about the penetration of various helminths, which is extremely rare.
Diagnostics in the laboratory
To accurately diagnose helminthiasis, several types of laboratory tests are used:
Sampling of biological material for analysis was performed in the morning. A small amount of stool is taken from the middle portion of the total that is sent to the laboratory. Here, the resulting material is visually examined, trying to determine the presence of eggs in it. The eggs of some parasites are so large that they can be seen with the naked eye. If this does not happen, the biomaterial is stained with a special technique, seeded on nutrient medium, and then examined under a microscope. It is possible to speak of the absence of an infestation after only three or four studies in which no sign of the presence of worms was detected. This technique is suitable for the identification of all helminths whose eggs and segments are excreted in the feces.
Shave, cotton swab
Signs of the presence of pinworms and roundworms can be detected by removing a scraper or swab from the patient's perianal folds. This method is relevant due to the specific nature of the reproduction of helminths. Pinworms to lay eggs will leave the intestines and exit, where the laying process takes place. It is recommended to perform a smear in the morning, without the need to carry out preliminary hygienic procedures. Otherwise, the eggs of the parasite will be washed away and the analysis will give a false negative result.
In the diagnosis of helminthiasis, a general blood test is of indirect importance. Indisputable signs of the presence of parasites in the blood with this method of study are not detected. As a rule, the long-term presence of parasitic worms in the body leads to some decrease in the concentration of hemoglobin, the appearance of nonspecific signs of the inflammatory process (elevated ESR, leukocytosis).
ELISA blood test
The enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) method is based on the detection of antibodies to the toxin of the parasite and the body's enzymatic response to the presence of helminths. This method of research allows to diagnose the disease even if the helminths, for one reason or another, do not lay eggs. ELISA is most effective in the early stages of invasion, when the filariasis is just beginning to develop in the human body.
What to do if you are infected?
If there are signs of parasitic infection, independent treatment efforts should not be made. Regardless of the symptoms of worms in adults, it is best to see a parasitologist or gastroenterologist. The doctor will prescribe the necessary tests, can accurately assess the danger of the disease, select drugs to help quickly and completely remove the parasites from the body.
Despite the apparent simplicity of the disease, helminthiasis can have very serious consequences. There are cases when the presence of parasites leads to intestinal perforation, obstruction, peritonitis, and sepsis. Modern drugs allow you to quickly and reliably deworming. However, almost each has some contraindications and recommendations for use that only a specialist knows. That is why any dewormer or traditional medicine should be used only after consulting a doctor.