Encyclopedia

Ascariasis

Description

Ascaridosis is an infestation with the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides, better known as roundworm. These parasites use the human body as a host the larvae, the eggs of the adult worms and as a place for them to reproduce.

Adult parasites can reach a length of 30 or more centimeters. This type of parasitosis is the most common worldwide, as most people have no complaints. But when the body is infected with hundreds of worms, serious symptoms and complications can occur.

Parasitism develops most often in young children and is most widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, although also in Bulgaria in small towns and villages where there is no sewage system and public hygiene is at a low level, there is a risk of worming.

In our country, those infected with roundworm are subject to mandatory medical examination.

What are the symptoms?

Most people infected have no symptoms. But with moderate and severe helminth infestations, those affected show symptoms that can vary depending on which part of the body is affected.

If the parasitosis has overshadowed the lungs:

• After the microscopic eggs of Ascaris lumbricoides are inadvertently ingested, they hatch in the small intestine and the larvae migrate through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to the lungs. At this stage, you may experience symptoms like asthma or pneumonia such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath and wheezing. After staying in the lungs for 6 to 10 days, they can reach the throat when coughed up and then be swallowed again.

In the intestines:

• Larvae reach sexual maturity in the small intestine and adult parasites usually live in the intestine until they die. With mild to moderate intestinal helminthic infestation, the following clinical manifestations may occur – vague abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or blood in the stool.

If the infestation is severe and there are a large number of worms, then the symptoms are – severe abdominal pain, fatigue, vomiting, weight loss, visible worms in the stool or vomit.

When should we seek medical attention?

Consult your doctor if you have persistent abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.

Treatment of ascariasis

While symptomatic parasitosis usually requires treatment, those without clinical manifestations may not be treated. But sometimes the fact that a person has worms in his body prompts him to start treatment, even though it is possible that the worms will die on their own.

This happens, for example, if there are no male worms to mate with females and the females eventually die.

The main method of treatment is drug therapy. Albendazole, mebendazole, ivermectin are most often prescribed. These drugs work by killing the adult worms. Each of the drugs can be taken once, and side effects are most often abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Surgery

In cases of severe infestations, surgical intervention may be required to remove the damage caused by the parasites and to remove the parasites themselves. Intestinal obstruction or perforation, biliary obstruction and appendicitis are complications that may require surgery.

Prevention

The best precaution is to maintain good personal and public hygiene. Follow these tips to avoid infection:

Maintain excellent hygiene – roundworms are spread by ingesting their eggs from contaminated soil. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling food, and wash fruits and vegetables very carefully. But still, it’s still no guarantee that you won’t get infected.
• When traveling in small towns where there is no sewage drink only bottled water and avoid raw vegetables unless you can peel them and wash them yourself. As a rule, only eat foods that are hot or cooked.

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