Worms are parasitic worms that live in human intestines or tissues. The vast majority of parasites have two hosts - intermediate and final. However, some helminths parasitize the body without leaving it and without entering the environment. Worms are everywhere. Their largest numbers are present in countries with warm and humid climates.
The symptoms of worms in the intestines depend not only on the type of invasion but also on the characteristics of its course.
The most common types of parasites
There are seven main types of parasitic worms:
Pinworms are small filamentous worms that fall into the category of nematodes. The size of an adult does not exceed 1 mm. In the human body, they live mainly in the colon, causing irritation, mucosal damage, and inflammation of the gut. The incubation period for enterobiasis caused by pinworms is approximately 15 days. Furthermore, a characteristic clinical picture develops. The duration of the disease is 2 months, which is equal to the lifespan of the worm. In reality, independent dissolution of the disease does not occur because there is a mechanism of self-infection in enterobiasis.
Note: Symptoms of enterobiasis are rare. The disease often occurs in a blurred form with no clear diagnostic signs. Enterobiasis is suspected in children when the child complains of itching in the perianal region.
Pinworm infection occurs if personal hygiene rules are not followed. The route of infection is oral stools. The person who touches the contaminated surface and then does not wash his hands swallows the eggs of the helminth. Similarly, re-infection with enterobiasis occurs. A patient who experiences itching in the perianal region scratches the disturbing area and then begins to eat. The worm blight on the hand is swallowed. The developmental cycle of the parasite begins again.
Cylindrical worms are dicotyledonous nematodes that live in the small intestine of humans and animals. The length of the female helminth is 40 centimeters. The size of the male is much smaller. Its length usually does not exceed 25 centimeters. The identification feature of the male is the pointed end of the body.
The life cycle of cylindrical worms is somewhat more complex than that of needle worms. The route of infection is oral stools. The eggs of helminths fall into the hands of man when working with earth and contaminated objects. In the stomach, a young larva comes out of the egg, which enters the bloodstream using hooks. She grows and wanders here. By the time the larvae enter the lungs, it will reach a state where it will develop into a mature individual. The patient coughs up the larva, then swallows it again, enters the intestines, turning into an adult tapeworm.
Vlasoglav is a nematode that belongs to the group of nematodes. It is a parasite that lives in the colon of humans and pets. On the outside, the helminth appears as a thin gray yarn of varying thickness. The front of the whiplash is thin and long. The back thickened and shortened. Here are the internal organs. The body length of the whipworm does not change depending on sex and is 3-5 centimeters.
Whipworms that are already parasitized in the host are excreted in the environment. Here they mature and become invasive. A person becomes infected through the feces orally if personal hygiene rules are not followed. The larvae of the whipworm enter the intestines, grow, feed on the microflora and develop. Subsequently, young individuals of the intestinal worm migrate to the colon. trichuriasis develops.
Tapeworms are tapeworms that sometimes reach 25 meters in length. The most famous members of this genus of parasites are:
- bull tapeworm;
- swine tapeworm;
- wide ribbon.
The structure of all tapeworms is similar. Their heads, necks and bodies are made up of many segments. The uterus of the segments closer to the end of the body is full of eggs. They separate from the tapeworm and leave with feces.
The life cycle of tapeworms usually involves the presence of two hosts - intermediate and final. The intermediate host may vary depending on the type of worm. Humans become infected by swallowing larvae found in undercooked meat or fish.
Echinococcus is the smallest tapeworm in existence. Length 2-8 mm. The mature individual has a scolexe, neck, and 3-4 segments. It lives in the intestines of carnivores belonging to the canine family. Intermediate farmers can be herbivores or humans. Helminth eggs fall into contact with the definitive host or when harvesting wild berries seeded with echinococcus eggs.
During the ingestion of eggs, man becomes an intermediate host. In its body, the larvae penetrate the blood vessels, flow into the organs and tissues where they settle, and are transformed into Finnish - a fluid-filled bubble containing the scolex of the parasite. In this case, the Finnish can reach large sizes, leading to compression of organs and tissues. The localization of echinococcal cysts in the brain, liver and lungs is particularly dangerous.
Schistisomes are amphibian-type helminth samples belonging to the category of flatworms. They have an oral and abdominal heart. The female is slightly taller than the male. The final host of the schistosome is man and mammal. The helminth settles in the small blood vessels of the colon, pelvis, and bladder. The parasite’s eggs enter the bloodstream, the kidneys are filtered out and excreted in the urine.
The parasitic larvae that have entered the freshwater reservoir penetrate the molluscic bodies, where they continue their developmental cycle. After 6-8 weeks, the embryos re-enter the open water, where they turn into cercariae-tailed larvae that can penetrate the human body through intact skin. In humans, infections usually develop from swimming in open water, washing clothes, or other contact with open water.
Filariae are round filamentous worms. There are about 8 types of filaria that parasitize the human body. The intermediate host and carrier of the disease are blood-sucking insects. Human infection occurs when insect bites and helminth larvae enter the upper layers of the skin.
The larvae are distributed in the body of the final host in a haematogenic manner. The worms spread throughout the body, settling in the organs and tissues, causing allergic reactions, swelling of the affected area, lymphostasis, and proliferation of endothelial cells.
How to identify worms at home
The presence of worms in the body can be assumed based on one or another characteristic. In addition, a special test was developed for the rapid diagnosis of helminthiasis, which consisted of several questions.
Signs of the presence of parasites in the body
The signs of worms in an adult's body depend directly on the type of invasion.
- Enterobiosis - itching in the anus, insomnia, irritability, indigestion, diarrhea, loss of appetite, pain in the right side of the abdomen, bloating, false stools.
- Ascariasis - vomiting, pain in the navel, dry cough, nausea, shortness of breath, tapeworm or tapeworm eggs in the stool, wheezing, fever.
- Trichuriasis - bloating, vomiting, faeces mixed with blood and mucus, mental retardation of the child, abdominal pain, weight loss, anemia.
- Invasion of tapeworms - asymptomatic for a long time. Later, episodic abdominal pain, decreased hemoglobin levels in the blood, indigestion, diarrhea, and unexplained weight loss occur.
- Echinococcus - the symptoms of infection with the parasites that make up the Finns depend on which organ is affected. With the development of an echinococcal cyst in the brain, neurological symptoms occur. In patients with hepatic impairment, patients complain of right-sided pain, jaundice of the skin, general deterioration in well-being, and violation of digestive processes.
- Schistosomiasis - weight loss, abdominal pain, dizziness, enlarged liver, spleen, blood in the urine, fever, anemia, skin edema, urolithiasis, dry cough, defecation disorder.
- Filariasis - growth of lymph nodes, hyperthermia, weakness, headache, blood in the urine, stiffness of movements, growth of certain parts of the body, swelling of the skin, tearing.
Note: Most of the symptoms described are not specific and can occur with many other diseases.
This test makes it possible to assess the likelihood of infection with helminth samples. When submitting, you must use answers such as "yes", "no", "sometimes". Each "yes" answer is worth 2 points and the "no" answer is 0 points.
- Do you have morning sickness?
- Do you have pale skin, gums?
- Is there persistent anemia that does not respond to drug therapy?
- Pain or discomfort in the abdomen?
- Are indigestion common?
- Stool problems?
- Difficulty on the right?
- A common headache?
- Intermittent cough?
- Intermittent tingling in the large joints?
- Sudden loss of vision?
- Gnashing your teeth?
- Do you eat large amounts of food while still hungry?
- Common allergies?
- Is there a swelling?
- Decreased performance?
- Chronic diseases?
- Intermittent abdominal pain?
- Signs of inflammation in the blood?
- Itching in the anus?
- Do family members have similar symptoms?
A test with no more than 6 points is considered a negative test. The probability of invasion is in those who scored 6-17 points. People who scored 17-24 on the test are almost certain to be infected with one or the other helminth. In the case of a 24-42 point index, we can speak of multiple invasions of different types of helminths, which is extremely rare.
Several laboratory tests are used to accurately diagnose helminthiases:
The biological material required for analysis is sampled in the morning. A small amount of stool from the middle of the full dose is sent to the laboratory. Here, the resulting material is visually inspected in an attempt to determine the presence of eggs. The eggs of some parasites are so large that they are visible to the naked eye. If this is not the case, the biomaterial is stained by special techniques, applied to the medium and examined under a microscope. The absence of invasion can only be discussed after three to four examinations in which no signs of worms were detected. The technique is suitable for the detection of any worm whose eggs and segments are excreted in the faeces.
Signs of needles and ascaris can be detected by scraping or removing a swab from the patient's perianal folds. This method is relevant because of the specificity of the reproduction of helminth samples. The dumpling needed to lay eggs leaves the intestines and exits where the laying process takes place. The smear should be taken in the morning without any prior hygiene procedures. Otherwise, the parasite's eggs will be washed and the analysis will be a false negative.
In the diagnosis of helminthiasis, general blood testing is of indirect importance. With this research method, no indisputable signs of the presence of parasites in the blood are detected. As a general rule, the long-term presence of parasitic worms in the body leads to a slight decrease in hemoglobin levels, the appearance of non-specific signs of the inflammatory process (increased ESR, leukocytosis).
ELISA blood test
The method of the enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) is based on the detection of antibodies against parasitic toxins and the body's enzymatic response to the presence of helminths. This research method makes it possible to diagnose the disease even if the intestinal worm has not laid eggs for one reason or another. ELISA is most productive in the early stages of invasion, when the worm is just beginning to develop in the human body.
What to do if you become infected?
If there are signs of parasitic infection, self-medication should not be performed. Regardless of the symptoms of adult worms, the best solution is to visit a parasitologist or gastroenterologist. It prescribes the necessary tests, is able to correctly assess the risk of the disease, select the drugs that quickly and completely remove parasites from the body.
Despite the apparent simplicity of the disease, helminthiasis can have very serious consequences. There have been cases where the presence of parasites has led to intestinal perforation, occlusion, peritonitis, and sepsis. Modern medicines allow you to get rid of worms quickly and reliably. However, almost all have a number of contraindications and recommendations for use that are known only to a person skilled in the art. Therefore, any anthelmintic or conventional medicine should be used only after consulting your doctor.