Helminths are parasitic worms that live in the human gut or tissue. The vast majority of parasites have two hosts - an intermediate host and a final host. However, some worms live inside the body without leaving the body and entering the environment. Worms are everywhere. They are most abundant in countries with warm and humid climates.
The symptoms of intestinal worms depend not only on the type of invasion, but also on the characteristics of its course.
Most common type of parasite
There are seven main varieties of parasites:
Pinworms are small thread-like worms that belong to the nematode class. Adult size does not exceed 1mm. In humans, they live mainly in the large intestine, causing irritation, mucosal damage, and enteritis. The incubation period for pinworm disease caused by pinworms is about 15 days. In addition, characteristic clinical manifestations appear. The course of the disease is 2 months, which is equivalent to the lifespan of a worm. In fact, independent resolution of the disease does not occur because of the self-infection mechanism of enterobiasis.
Note: Symptoms of pinworm disease are rarely noticeable. The disease often presents in an ambiguous form with no clear diagnostic signs. If a child complains of itching in the perianal area, childhood enterobiasis is suspected.
Pinworm infections occur when personal hygiene rules are not followed. The route of transmission is fecal-oral. People who touch a contaminated surface and then don't wash their hands can swallow the worm eggs. Likewise, reinfection of enterobiasis can also occur. The patient experiences itching in the perianal area, scratches the disturbing area, and continues to eat. Eggs that land on hands are swallowed. The developmental cycle of the parasite begins all over again.
Roundworms are dioecious roundworms that live in the small intestines of humans and animals. Female worms are 40 cm in length. Males are much smaller. Its length is usually no more than 25 cm. The identifying feature of a male is the tip of the body.
The life cycle of roundworms is a bit more complicated than that of pinworms. The route of infection is fecal-oral. Worm eggs can land on human hands when dealing with dirt and grime. In the stomach, a larva emerges from the egg and enters the bloodstream with the help of a hook. This is where it grows and migrates. When the larva enters the lungs, it reaches a state where it can develop into a sexually mature individual. The patient coughs up the larvae, which are then swallowed again, and enter the intestines, where they become adult roundworms.
Vlasoglav is a roundworm belonging to the nematode group. It is a parasite that lives in the large intestine of humans and livestock. Externally, the worm looks like a thin gray thread of varying thickness. The front part of the flagella is thin and long. The back becomes thicker and shorter. Here are the guts. The body length of whipworms does not vary by gender and is 3-5 cm.
The whipworm eggs are already parasitized in the host organism and enter the environment with the feces. Here, they mature and become aggressive. If personal hygiene rules are not followed, a person can become infected through the fecal-oral route. Trichuris larvae enter the gut, grow, feed on microbes and develop. Subsequently, young individuals of the worm migrate into the large intestine. The development of whipworm disease.
Tapeworms are tapeworms, sometimes up to 25 meters long. The most famous representatives of this parasite are:
- bovine 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 many parts. The part near the end of the body has a uterus full of eggs. They are isolated from tapeworms and excreted in feces.
Typically, the life cycle of a tapeworm implies the presence of two hosts - an intermediate host and a final host. Intermediate hosts may vary by worm type. Humans become infected by ingesting larvae from undercooked meat or fish.
Echinococcus is the smallest living tapeworm. Its length is 2-8 mm. A mature individual has a head segment, a neck, and 3-4 segments. It lives in the gut of canine carnivores. Intermediate hosts can be herbivores or humans. Worm eggs land on hands during contact with the final host or collection of wild berries seeded with Echinococcus eggs.
When eggs are ingested, a person becomes an intermediate host. In his body, the larvae infiltrate blood vessels, and as the blood flows, they are carried to organs and tissues, where they settle and become a Finn - a fluid-filled bubble with the parasite's head segment inside it. In this case, Finn can reach larger sizes, which can lead to compression of organs and tissues. Of particular risk is the localization of echinococcal cysts in the brain, liver and lungs.
Schistosomiasis are dioecious worms belonging to the class of flatworms. They have oral and ventral suckers. Females are slightly longer than males. The ultimate hosts of schistosomes are humans and mammals. The worms live in small blood vessels in the large intestine, small pelvis, and bladder. The parasite's eggs are released into the bloodstream, filtered out by the kidneys, and excreted in the urine.
Parasite larvae that fall into freshwater reservoirs penetrate the mollusk's body and continue their developmental cycle. After 6-8 weeks, the embryos enter open water again, where they become cercariae—tailed larvae that can enter the body through intact skin. Typically, human infection occurs when swimming in open water, doing laundry in it, or having other contact with open water.
Filariasis are round, thread-like worms. There are about 8 species of filarial parasitic in the human body. The intermediate hosts and carriers of the disease are blood-sucking insects. Human infections occur when insect bites and worm larvae enter the upper layers of the skin.
The distribution of larvae within the final host occurs via the hematopoietic route. The worms spread throughout the body and settle in organs and tissues, causing allergic reactions, swelling of the affected area, lymphatic accumulation, and proliferation of endothelial cells.
How to Identify Worms in Your Home
The presence of worms in the body can be assumed by one feature or the other. In addition, for the rapid diagnosis of helminthiasis, a special test was developed that includes several questions.
signs of parasites in the body
The signs of worms in adults depend directly on the type of invasion.
- Intestinal flora - anal itching, insomnia, irritability, indigestion, diarrhea, loss of appetite, pain on the right side of the abdomen, flatulence, imaginary defecation.
- Ascariasis - Vomiting, belly button pain, dry cough, nausea, shortness of breath, roundworms or eggs in stool, wheezing, fever.
- Trichuris - flatulence, vomiting, stool mixed with blood and mucus, mental retardation in children, abdominal pain, weight loss, anemia.
- Invasion by tapeworms - for a long time it is asymptomatic. Later, there was episodic abdominal pain, decreased hemoglobin in the blood, indigestion, diarrhea, and unprovoked weight loss.
- Echinococcus - Symptoms of infection with the parasite that forms Finns depend on the organ affected. Neurological symptoms develop as hydatid cysts develop in the brain. With liver damage, patients complain of pain on the right side, yellowing of the skin, general deterioration of health, and disrupted digestive processes.
- Schistosomiasis - weight loss, abdominal pain, dizziness, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, hematuria, fever, anemia, skin edema, urolithiasis, dry cough, defecation disturbance.
- Filariasis--increased lymph nodes, high body temperature, weakness, headache, blood in the urine, stiffness in movement, increase in certain parts of the body, swollen skin, tearing.
NOTE: Most of the symptoms described are nonspecific and may occur with many other disorders.
This test allows you to assess the likelihood of infection with worms. When passing, answer options such as "Yes", "No", "Sometimes" should be used. For each "yes" answer, 2 points are awarded, for "no" answers - 0 points. One point for "sometimes" answers.
- Do you have morning sickness?
- Do you have pale skin, gums?
- Is there persistent anemia that does not respond to medical therapy?
- Abdominal pain or discomfort?
- Is indigestion common?
- Stool disorders?
- Is there any heaviness on the right side?
- Frequent headaches?
- Periodic cough?
- Intermittent tingling in large joints?
- Sudden vision loss?
- Grinding your teeth while sleeping?
- Still feeling hungry after eating a lot of food?
- Frequent allergies?
- Will swelling occur?
- Degraded performance?
- Chronic disease?
- Intermittent abdominal pain?
- Signs of inflammation in the blood?
- Anal itching?
- Does your family have similar symptoms?
A negative test can be considered a test with a score of 6 or less. Those with scores between 6 and 17 have the potential for intrusion. People who scored anywhere from 17 to 24 on the test were almost certainly infected with one worm or another. On a scale of 24 to 42, it can be said that multiple invasions of different types of worms are rare.
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 feces removed from the middle of all sections was sent to the laboratory. Here, the material obtained was visually inspected in an attempt to determine whether eggs were present 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 biological material is stained using special techniques, then seeded on nutrient medium and examined under a microscope. It is only possible to talk about the absence of an invasion after three or four studies, during which no sign of the presence of worms was detected. This technique is suitable for the determination of all worms whose eggs and parts are excreted in feces.
Signs of pinworms and roundworms can be detected by taking a scraping or swab from the patient's anus. This method is relevant due to the peculiarities of worm reproduction. The pinworms used to lay eggs leave the gut and leave, where the eggs are laid. The smear should be performed in the morning without the need for preliminary hygiene procedures. Otherwise, the parasite's eggs will be washed away and the analysis will be falsely negative.
In the diagnosis of helminthiasis, general blood tests are of indirect importance. No indisputable evidence of the presence of parasites in the blood was detected with this method of research. In general, prolonged presence of endoparasites leads to decreased hemoglobin levels, nonspecific signs of inflammatory processes (increased ESR, leukocytosis).
ELISA blood test
The enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) method is based on the detection of antibodies to parasite toxins and the enzymatic response of the human body to the presence of worms. This method of research can diagnose the disease even if the worms don't lay eggs for some reason. ELISA is most effective during the early stages of invasion, when worms are just beginning to develop in humans.
What if I get infected?
If there are signs of parasitic infection, independent treatment attempts should not be made. Regardless of the symptoms of adult worms, the best course of action is to see a parasitologist or gastroenterologist. He will prescribe the necessary tests to be able to correctly assess the risk of the disease, to select drugs that will quickly and completely remove the parasites from the body.
Although the disease may seem simple, helminthiasis can have very serious consequences. In some cases, the presence of parasites leads to intestinal perforation, obstruction, peritonitis, and sepsis. Modern medicines allow you to get rid of worms quickly and reliably. However, almost everyone has some contraindications and usage recommendations that only experts know. This is why any deworming or traditional medicine should only be used after consulting a doctor.