Worms in the intestines
Various worms use the human intestine as a habitat. If the worm was ingested by humans as an egg or larva, it mainly develops. in the intestine, but also in other human organs, depending on the species, to become a full-grown worm and multiply. The worm infestation is not always noticed by the person concerned. The possible symptoms can be very diverse depending on the type of worm. There may be increased itching in the anus area or unwanted weight loss, as well as flu-like symptoms.
How does admission come about?
Most worms are ingested through food in a preliminary stage as eggs or larvae and only develop into adult worms in the body. Contaminated and insufficiently cooked meat, but also unwashed forest berries or vegetables fertilized with manure, can be contaminated with worm eggs or larvae. The ingested preliminary stages of the worms get into the intestine and remain there. In the process, the female worms lay eggs, which in turn are excreted with the human stool and can thus lead to further infections if there is anus-finger-mouth contact.
The eggs deposited on the anus by the female worm cause itching. By scratching with your hand in the itchy area, the hand is covered with the eggs and can spread them further. Therefore, it is particularly important to maintain good hygiene and wash your hands regularly if you are known to have worms.
Worms can also be transmitted via the faeces of pets, which is why regular deworming of the animals should be sought.
Read more on this topic at: Parasites of humans
Often worms in the intestine go unnoticed for years. Nevertheless, depending on the infestation and also depending on the immune status of the person affected, there may be noticeable signs. E.g. laying eggs in the anus area itching too much at night. Unwanted weight loss can also be a sign of worm infestation. Other symptoms can be very unspecific and similar to those of the flu. Abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea are possible. However, some of the symptoms are also very specific to one type of worm. E.g. the fish tapeworm to a deficiency in vitamin B-12.
If a worm has also infected the brain, it can lead to an inflammation of the brain, which can be noticeable in the form of fever, sensitivity to light, headaches and a clouded level of consciousness.
Read more about the: Fox tapeworm
The accompanying symptoms vary depending on the type of worm and can sometimes be completely absent. Tapeworm infestation in the intestines can cause abdominal pain or diarrhea. In addition, deficiency symptoms can also occur, as the worm consumes the corresponding food components itself. For example, fish tapeworm infestation manifests itself in a lack of vitamin B-12. This can be diagnosed via a blood analysis and, if the disease persists, it can lead to a lack of blood.
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If the tapeworm also affects the lungs, this can manifest itself in a dry cough. Sometimes parts of the worm can also be excreted in the stool.
If a tapeworm also affects the liver, this can be noticed by the fact that the dermis of the eyes turns yellow. As the disease progresses, it turns yellow all over the body and there is pain on the right side of the upper abdomen. The liver can also be impaired, e.g. can express themselves in reduced blood clotting or water retention. A fox tapeworm is particularly common when the liver is infected.
Read more on this topic at: Jaundice
It is typical for pinworms that there is itching in the area of the anus, especially at night. This is caused by the fact that the female worms lay their eggs in the anal folds at night. Intestinal infections or weight loss are also possible here. Nocturnal scratching because of the itching can lead to local inflammation.
While roundworms usually do not cause symptoms in the case of a minor infestation, a stronger infestation can lead to abdominal pain, fever, weight loss or anemia. Roundworms can also infect the lungs and are then conspicuous with bronchitis-like symptoms.
Read more on this topic at: Unintended weight loss
Even if trichinae are initially mainly accumulate in the intestines, they are usually noticeable by febrile muscle pain. If these symptoms are present, it suggests that the trichinae have already migrated from the intestine via the blood into the muscles. The symptoms often initially resemble those of a rheumatic disease. In addition, there are intestinal complaints such as diarrhea or abdominal pain.
Allergic reactions can also occur during worm infestation.
An important aspect of the treatment of worm infections in the intestine is the prevention of reinfections or new infections in contact persons. For this purpose it is important to adhere to strict hygiene measures. This includes not only thorough hand washing after a bowel movement, but also avoiding the consumption of unwashed, self-harvested fruit and consistent cooking of meat.
In addition, you should shower daily and the bed linen and clothes must be changed after you start taking medication so that after the medication has healed, no reinfection occurs via the worm eggs deposited in the laundry. Furthermore, the fingernails should be kept short so that no eggs can collect under them.
Also read: Parasite cure
If a worm disease that requires treatment has already occurred, drugs called antihelminthics can be used to kill the worms. The active ingredients used are Praziquantel, albendazole and mebendazole. The drugs must not be used during pregnancy. Often a single dose is sufficient, but some worm species require long-term therapy. In any case, the success of the therapy should be checked, as reinfection should be excluded.
Which drugs are used?
The drugs used in worm infestation are called antihelminthics and kill the worms, which are then excreted in the stool. Important representatives of this drug class are Praziquantel, albendazole and mebendazole. In some cases, a single dose of the drug is sufficient. In the case of a more severe infection, e.g. lifelong therapy may be necessary in the context of alveolar echinococcosis.
Possible side effects often affect the gastrointestinal tract in the form of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Long-term use can lead to a decrease in the number of white blood cells and increased liver values.
Read more on this topic at: Medicines for worms
In addition to drug therapy controlled by a doctor, some home remedies are also said to have positive effects on combating worm infestation.
Herbs like thyme, oregano or gentian are said to help fight the worms. A tea can be made from thyme, which should be drunk every day for three weeks after 10 minutes of brewing time. Gentian is also consumed in the form of a tea, which should, however, infuse for up to 8 hours. Oregano is best taken in capsule form. It should be noted that the medicinal herbs should not be used in children.
Garlic is also said to have a positive effect. It is recommended to consume garlic milk daily on an empty stomach for a total of three weeks. For the garlic milk, three cloves of garlic are crushed and stirred into a cup of milk.
In a similar way, you can also drink a glass of white cabbage juice in the morning, which, unlike garlic milk, does not require its own production and can be purchased.
Regular consumption of carrots, boiled carrots or papaya (seeds) before each meal should also have a beneficial effect.
The use of grapefruit seed juice is recommended only to a limited extent, as it should not be taken by children, pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Black seed oil, on the other hand, can also be given to children and is also available as a capsule.
It is also recommended to enjoy a low-carbohydrate, and therefore low-sugar, diet.
Most worm diseases have no consequences and can be treated well with anthelmintics and strict hygiene measures. Occasionally, however, serious illnesses can occur. An example of this is echinococcosis, which is triggered by a fox tapeworm infestation.
Flu-like symptoms will go away with treatment of the worm. If the worm infestation has led to biliary build-up or inflammation of the pancreas, these symptoms should also be treated symptomatically in order to heal without consequences.
In Germany, tapeworms, pinworms, trichinae and roundworms are the most common. Returning holidaymakers can also lead to the appearance of regionally unfamiliar worm species.
The pinworm is a very common parasite of the human intestine. Worldwide, around 50% of people become infected with a pinworm at least once in their life, which leads to a rate of 500 million infections per year worldwide. The pinworm is most commonly found in areas with a temperate climate and often affects children due to poor hygiene after using the toilet. The pinworm is ingested through eggs and sucks on to the intestinal wall as a larva, where it remains until sexual maturity. After mating, the female crawls out of the human anus at night and lays her eggs in the anal folds. These lead to itching. If a person scratches their anus, hand-mouth contact can lead to reinfection with the eggs.
Read more on this topic at: Itching of the anus
Like pinworms, roundworms are also roundworms. The roundworm is characterized by the fact that, during its development from egg to larva, it moves from the intestine via the liver to the lungs, where the worm infestation can lead to coughing, fever and heavy mucus. If the larvae are carried into the throat when coughing and then swallowed, they return to the intestine, where they mature into adult worms and, among other things, colic or intestinal obstruction as well as malnutrition.
Trichinae, which also belong to the group of roundworms, usually reach humans via pigs, e.g. by eating contaminated ground meat, as only cooking kills the trichinae.
Tapeworms are flatworms and represent a class of over 3500 different worms. Most are hermaphrodites and have both male and female sexual organs. Around 10 million people around the world are infected with tapeworms every year, but the incidence in Germany is low, but should be taken seriously, as an infestation by a tapeworm can be a life-threatening disease.
Read more on this topic at: Parasites of humans
An infection with the fox tapeworm is known as alveolar echinococcosis in humans. The fox tapeworm is particularly common in northern countries, such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and eastern France. Eating unwashed wild berries or mushrooms, but also petting infested animals whose fur is contaminated with eggs, can lead to infection.
The eggs ingested do not stay in the intestine, but continue to develop in the liver. There the worms form cysts and not only displace the original tissue, but also destroy it through their invasive growth. However, the cysts take a long time to cause symptoms.
The fox tapeworm can spread throughout the body via the lymph and blood vessels. In analogy to the scattering behavior of a tumor, this behavior is referred to as metastasis. If left untreated, alveolar echinococcosis is usually fatal to humans.
Echinococcosis can be diagnosed using cross-sectional imaging, CT or MRI, or an ultrasound scan showing the cysts in the liver. In addition, however, blood tests must be carried out to ultimately confirm the diagnosis. This is the representation of specific antibodies.
Therapeutic efforts are made to surgically remove the cysts. However, since there may be a spread and the cysts can only be completely removed in 25% of patients, systemic long-term therapy with an anthelmintic (albendazole or mebendazole) usually follows.
How infectious are worms in the intestine?
Infectiousness varies depending on the type of worm. Pinworms are infectious during the entire period of colonization and are easily spread further. It is not just direct contact with stool that leads to infection. Even when shaking out bed linen, there can be contact with the eggs or the pinworm can be spread through unclean toilet door handles. This also explains its common occurrence in children. However, children with pinworm infestation are allowed to go to kindergarten or school, as strict hygiene measures, such as careful washing of hands, prevent the worms from spreading.
The roundworm, on the other hand, cannot be transmitted from person to person because the eggs excreted in the stool only become infectious after they have matured in the earth for weeks.
Since wild berries are often covered with worms through animal excretions, fruits from the wild should not be eaten unwashed. This mainly applies to towards berries that grow on bushes close to the ground.
Since strict controls are carried out on the meat that is sold in Germany, worm infestation on the meat sold is rare, but not impossible. Especially with raw meat, such as Mett, the probability of transmission is increased. In addition to cooking, freezing the meat at -20 ° C can also kill the worms.
Which doctor treats this?
Most worm diseases can be detected through a stool sample. A blood test can also provide information, as a worm infestation often results in an increase in certain white blood cells, the eosinophilic granulocytes. However, this is a non-specific reference. Since the stool sample is easy to carry out, it is usually sufficient to see your doctor if you suspect a worm infestation. He can prescribe the necessary medication and refer the patient to a parasitologist if further clarification is required. Especially if the symptoms arise after a trip to a tropical area, it can be useful to see a tropical medicine specialist.