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 greatest number is present in countries with a hot and humid climate.
Symptoms of worms in the intestines depend not only on the type of invasion, but also on the features of its course.
The most common types of parasites
There are seven main varieties of parasitic worms:
Pinworms are small threadlike worms belonging to the category of nematodes. The size of an adult does not exceed 1 mm. In the human body, they mainly live in the large intestine, causing irritation, mucosal damage and enteritis. Enterobiasis caused by pinworms has an incubation period of about 15 days. Further, a characteristic clinical picture develops. The duration of the disease is 2 months, which is equivalent to the lifespan of the worm. In reality, an independent resolution of the disease does not occur, since with enterobiosis there is a mechanism of self-infection.
Note: Symptoms of enterobiosis are rarely pronounced. The disease often occurs in a blurred form, has no clear diagnostic signs. Suspicion of enterobiasis in children arises 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 faecal-oral. A person who touches a contaminated surface, and then does not wash his hands, swallows helminth eggs. Similarly, reinfection with enterobiosis occurs. The patient, suffering from itching in the perianal region, scratches the troublesome area, then begins to eat. Worm eggs that fall on the hands are swallowed. The development cycle of the parasite begins again.
Roundworms are dioecious roundworms 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 identifying feature of the male is the pointed end of the body.
The life cycle of roundworms is a little more complex than that of pinworms. The route of infection is fecal-oral. Helminth eggs fall on a person's hands when working with soil and soiled objects. In the stomach, a young larva emerges from the egg and enters the bloodstream with the help of hooks. This is where it grows and migrates. By the time the larva enters the lungs, it reaches a state that allows it to develop into a sexually mature individual. The patient spits out the larva, after which it is swallowed again, enters the intestines and turns into an adult ascaris.
Vlasoglav is a roundworm belonging to the group of nematodes. It is a parasite that lives in the large intestine of humans and pets. Outwardly, the helminth looks like a thin grayish thread of different thicknesses. The anterior part of the whiplash is thin and long. The back is thickened and shortened. Here are the internal organs. The length of the body of the whipworm does not differ by sex and is 3-5 centimeters.
Whipworm eggs, already parasitic on the host organism, enter the environment with faeces. Here they mature and become invasive. A person becomes infected through the fecal-oral route if the rules of personal hygiene are not observed. Whipworm larvae enter the intestines, grow, feed on microflora and develop. Subsequently, young individuals of the helminth migrate into the large intestine. trichuriasis develops.
Tapeworms are tapeworms, sometimes reaching 25 meters in length. The most famous representatives of this genus of parasites are:
- bull tapeworm;
- pork tapeworm;
- wide ribbon.
The body structure of all tapeworms is similar. They have a head, a neck and a body made up of several segments. The segments located closer to the end of the body have a uterus filled with eggs. They are separated from the tapeworm and come out with feces.
As a rule, the life cycle of tapeworms involves the presence of two hosts - intermediate and final. The intermediate host may vary depending on the type of worm. A person becomes infected by swallowing the larvae contained in undercooked meat or fish.
The echinococcus is the smallest tapeworm that exists. Its length is from 2 to 8 mm. A mature individual has a scolex, a neck and 3-4 segments. It lives in the intestines of carnivorous animals of the canine family. Intermediate hosts can be herbivores or humans. Helminth eggs fall on hands upon contact with the definitive host or when harvesting wild berries seeded with echinococcus eggs.
When eggs are ingested, a person becomes an intermediate host. In his body, the larvae enter the blood vessels, along with the blood flow they are transported to the organs and tissues, where they settle and turn into Finn - a bubble filled with liquid and containing the scolex of the parasite. In this case, the Finn can reach large sizes, which leads to compression of organs and tissues. Particularly dangerous is the localization of echinococcal cysts in the brain, liver and lungs.
Schistisomes are dioecious type helminths belonging to the category of flatworms. They have oral and ventral suckers. The female is slightly longer than the male. The definitive host of the schistosome is man and mammals. Helminths settle in the small vessels of the large intestine, small pelvis and bladder. Parasite eggs are released into the bloodstream, filtered by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.
Larvae of parasites that have fallen into a reservoir of fresh water enter the bodies of mollusks, where they continue their development cycle. After 6-8 weeks, the embryos again enter open water, where they turn into cercariae - tailed larvae that can penetrate the human body through intact skin. Typically, infestations in humans develop when swimming in open water, washing clothes, or other contact with open water.
Filariae are round filiform worms. There are about 8 varieties of heartworms that parasitize the human body. The intermediate host and vector of the disease are blood-sucking insects. Human infection occurs when insect bites and helminth larvae penetrate the upper layers of the skin.
The distribution of the larvae in the body of the final host is by hematogenous route. Worms spread throughout the body, settle in organs and tissues, cause allergic reactions, swelling of the affected area, lymphostasis, 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. Also, for the rapid diagnosis of helminthiasis, a special test has been developed, consisting of 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 invasion.
- Enterobiosis - itching in the anus, insomnia, irritability, indigestion, diarrhea, loss of appetite, pain in the right side of the abdomen, flatulence, false urge to defecate.
- Ascariasis - vomiting, pain in the navel, dry cough, nausea, shortness of breath, roundworm or roundworm eggs in the stool, wheezing, fever.
- Trichuriasis - flatulence, vomiting, feces mixed with blood and mucus, child mental retardation, abdominal pain, weight loss, anemia.
- Tapeworm invasion - for a long time it is asymptomatic. Later, episodic abdominal pain, decreased blood hemoglobin, indigestion, diarrhea, and causeless weight loss occur.
- Echinococcus - symptoms of infection with parasites that form Finns depend on the affected organ. With the development of an echinococcal cyst in the brain, neurological symptoms appear. With liver damage, patients complain of pain in the right side, yellowing of the skin, general deterioration of 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, impaired defecation.
- Filariasis - enlargement of lymph nodes, hyperthermia, weakness, headache, blood in the urine, stiffness of movement, enlargement of certain parts of the body, swelling of the skin, tearing.
Note: Most of the symptoms described are non-specific and can occur with many other diseases.
This test allows you to assess the likelihood of infection with helminths. When you pass it, you must use answer options such as "yes", "no", "sometimes". For each "yes" answer, 2 points are awarded, for the "no" answer - 0 points. The answer "sometimes" requires a point.
- Is there morning sickness?
- Is there pale skin, gums?
- Is there persistent anemia that does not respond to drug treatment?
- Pain or discomfort in the abdomen?
- Is indigestion common?
- Stool problems?
- Is there heaviness in the right side?
- Frequent headaches?
- Periodic cough?
- Intermittent tingling in large joints?
- Sudden vision loss?
- Teeth grinding while sleeping?
- Eating large amounts of food while still hungry?
- Frequent allergies?
- Does swelling occur?
- Declining performance?
- Chronic diseases?
- Intermittent abdominal pain?
- Signs of inflammation in the blood?
- Itching in the anus?
- Do family members have similar symptoms?
A negative test can be considered a test in which no more than 6 points were scored. The probability of invasion exists in those who scored from 6 to 17 points. People who score 17 to 24 on the test are almost certainly infected with one or another helminth. With an indicator of 24-42 points, one can speak of multiple invasion by helminths of different types, which happens extremely rarely.
For an accurate diagnosis of helminthiasis, several types of laboratory tests are used:
The sampling of biological material for analysis is carried out in the morning. A small amount of stool taken from the middle of the total portion is sent to the laboratory. Here, the material obtained 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 using special techniques, seeded on a nutrient medium, after which it is examined under a microscope. It is possible to speak of the absence of invasion only after three or four studies, during which no signs of the presence of worms were detected. The technique is suitable for determining all helminths whose eggs and segments are excreted with feces.
Signs of the presence of pinworms and roundworms can be detected by taking a scraping or swab from the patient's perianal folds. This method is relevant due to the peculiarities of the reproduction of helminths. The pinworm for egg laying leaves the intestine and exits, where the egg-laying process takes place. A smear should be taken in the morning, without preliminary hygienic procedures. Otherwise, the eggs of the parasite will be washed away and the analysis will be falsely negative.
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 research are not detected. As a rule, the long-term presence of parasitic worms in the body leads to a certain decrease in the level of hemoglobin, the appearance of nonspecific signs of the inflammatory process (increased ESR, leukocytosis).
ELISA blood test
The enzyme immunoassay method (ELISA) is based on the detection of antibodies against parasitic toxins and the enzymatic response of the body to the presence of helminths. This method of research makes it possible to diagnose the disease even if the helminth for one reason or another did not lay eggs. ELISA is most productive in the early stages of invasion, when the worm is just beginning to grow in the human body.
What to do if you are infected?
If there are signs of parasitic infection, independent attempts at treatment should not be made. Regardless of the symptoms of worms in adults, the best thing to do is to consult a parasitologist or gastroenterologist. He will prescribe the necessary tests, will be able to correctly assess the danger of the disease, select drugs that will quickly and completely eliminate parasites from the body.
Despite the apparent simplicity of the disease, helminthiasis can lead to very serious consequences. There are cases when the presence of parasites led to perforation of the intestine, its obstruction, peritonitis and sepsis. Modern drugs allow you to quickly and reliably get rid of worms. However, almost each of them has a number of contraindications and recommendations for use, which only a specialist knows. That is why any anthelmintic drug or traditional medicine should be used only after consulting a doctor.