- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 21 views
Ascariasis (as-kuh-RIE-uh-sis) is a type of roundworm infection. These worms are parasites that use your body as a host to mature from larvae or eggs to adult worms. Adult worms, which reproduce, can be more than a foot (30 centimeters) long.One of the most common worm infections in people worldwide, Ascariasis is uncommon in the United States. Most infected people have mild cases with no symptoms. But heavy infestation can lead to serious symptoms and complications. Ascariasis occurs most often in children in tropical and subtropical regions of the world â€” especially in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene.
-Most people infected with Ascariasis have no symptoms. Moderate to heavy infestations cause various symptoms, depending on which part of your body is affected.
In the lungs
-After you ingest the microscopic Ascariasis eggs, they hatch in your small intestine and the larvae migrate through your bloodstream or lymphatic system into your lungs. At this stage, you may experience signs and symptoms similar to asthma or pneumonia, including:
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
-After spending six to 10 days in the lungs, the larvae travel to your throat, where you cough them up and then swallow them.
In the intestines
-The larvae mature into adult worms in your small intestine, and the adult worms typically live in the intestines until they die. In mild or moderate ascariasis, the intestinal infestation can cause:
- Vague abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or bloody stools
-If you have a large number of worms in your intestine, you might have:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Weight loss or malnutrition
- A worm in your vomit or stool
-In heavy infestations, it's possible to find worms after you cough or vomit, and the worms can come out of other body openings, such as your mouth or nostrils. If this happens to you, take the worm to your doctor to identify it and prescribe the proper treatment.
- Stool tests
-Mature female Ascariasis worms in your intestine begin laying eggs. These eggs travel through your digestive system and eventually can be found in your stool.To diagnose Ascariasis, your doctor will examine your stool for the microscopic eggs and larvae. But eggs won't appear in stool until at least 40 days after you're infected. And if you're infected with only male worms, you won't have eggs.
- Blood tests
-Your blood can be tested for the presence of an increased number of a certain type of white blood cell, called eosinophils. Ascariasis can elevate your eosinophils, but so can other types of health problems.
- X-rays. If you're infested with worms, the mass of worms may be visible in an X-ray of your abdomen. In some cases, a chest X-ray can reveal the larvae in your lungs.
- Ultrasound. An ultrasound may show worms in your pancreas or liver. This technology uses sound waves to create images of internal organs.
- CT scans or MRIs. Both types of tests create detailed images of your internal structures, which can help your doctor detect worms that are blocking ducts in your liver or pancreas. CT scans combine X-ray images taken from many angles; MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
-Typically, only infections that cause symptoms need to be treated. In some cases, Ascariasis will resolve on its own.
-Anti-parasite medications are the first line of treatment against Ascariasis. The most common are:
- Albendazole (Albenza)
- Ivermectin (Stromectol)
-These medications, taken for one to three days, kill the adult worms. Side effects include mild abdominal pain or diarrhea.
-In cases of heavy infestation, surgery may be necessary to remove worms and repair damage they've caused. Intestinal obstruction or perforation, bile duct obstruction, and appendicitis are complications that may require surgery.
Preparing for your appointment
-Your family doctor might refer you to a doctor specializing in disorders of the digestive system (gastroenterologist). You may need to consult a surgeon if the worms have blocked your intestines.
What you can do
-Before your appointment, you may want to write down the answers to the following questions:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Does anything make your symptoms better or worse?
- Have you noticed worms in your stool or vomit?
- Have you traveled to developing countries lately?
- What medications and supplements are you taking?