What is Intestinal Worm? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?
Intestinal worm is a type of infection caused by parasites that settle in the intestines. Intestinal worms are more common in children and families with children. This condition, which is mainly caused by lack of hygiene, can be transmitted through contact with an infected person, use of common items or contaminated food. This can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and various digestive problems. Intestinal worms generally cause mild to moderately severe symptoms and can be easily treated with medications. You can follow the rest of the article to have information about the causes, prevention methods and treatment of intestinal worms.
What is Intestinal Worm?
Intestinal worms, also known as pinworms, are enterobius vermicularis type parasites. Parasites can settle in the small intestine and cause various symptoms. In some people, intestinal worms can live for many years without causing any symptoms. Some types of intestinal worms that cause infection in humans are:
- Pinworm: Pinworm is the most common intestinal species around the world. Pinworms especially affect children and families with children.
- Tapeworms: Tapeworms live in the intestines of people who consume raw or undercooked pork and beef.
- Hookworms: Hookworms are transmitted to humans through the skin from infected soil. These species, which live by sucking blood from the intestine, generally do not cause any obvious symptoms.
- Ascaris: Ascaris, also called roundworms, is one of the most common intestinal worm species around the world. Ascaris can grow to an average length of about a foot in adult humans, although they do not cause any noticeable symptoms.
The mentioned parasite types may be more common depending on the country and environmental conditions. Since parasites can cause serious health problems in some people, a healthcare professional should be consulted if in any doubt.
What are the symptoms of intestinal worms?
Intestinal worms may cause different symptoms from person to person, or they may not cause any symptoms and go unnoticed in some people. In cases where infection develops, symptoms such as problems affecting the digestive system, weight loss, restlessness, itching and whiteness in the anus area may be observed. In some cases, parasites can be seen in the stool. In general, intestinal worm symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain and stomach ache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gas and bloating
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- High fever
- sleep problems
- Itching in the anus or vaginal area
- General feeling of not being well
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, dysentery may also develop in some cases. Bloody, mucusy stools or diarrhea may occur in dysentery.
What Causes Intestinal Worm?
Intestinal worms can generally be transmitted after consuming raw or undercooked animal meat such as infected cows, veal and pigs. Infected people can infect other people through direct contact or shared use of items. Generally, the causes of intestinal worms are as follows:
- Consuming dirty water.
- Contact with or eating contaminated soil.
- Using the toilet in unhygienic places.
- Eating and drinking contaminated foods and drinks
- Being in common areas with the infected person and using common items.
- Not complying with general hygiene rules.
Intestinal worms enter the body for the reasons mentioned and settle in the intestines. Parasites that settle in the intestine can then multiply and cause various symptoms.
How Are Intestinal Worms Diagnosed?
When experiencing certain symptoms that indicate an intestinal worm condition, a healthcare professional should be consulted. Although parasites in the intestines do not cause any symptoms, after a while they can pass through digestion and be excreted in the feces. Female intestinal worms, which are generally the size of a staple, lay their eggs at night and can be seen around the anal area. Based on the complaints, doctors may question whether parasites are seen in the stool. While some parasite species can be observed directly from a stool sample by microscopy, for some species parasite eggs must be observed by taking a swab sample from around the anus. To confirm the diagnosis, stool samples can be analyzed in a laboratory setting.
What are the Risk Factors for Intestinal Worm?
Intestinal worms are most common in children and their family members. It is thought that this is because children play with sand and soil in open areas such as parks and gardens or in places where children are concentrated, such as schools. Other risk factors for intestinal worms include being older, having diseases such as HIV/AIDS, having a weak immune system, and frequently traveling out of the country.
What are the Harms of Intestinal Worms?
Although intestinal worms are not often considered a risky condition, they can cause some complications in some risk groups and when left untreated. Some of the possible harms of this situation can be stated as follows:
- Malnutrition disorder
- intestinal blockages
- dehydration of the body
Intestinal worms are a condition that can progress and cause serious health problems if left untreated. If this situation is noticed, it is important to consult a healthcare institution to prevent and treat possible harm.
How to Treat Intestinal Worms?
Since intestinal worms show similar symptoms to digestive system diseases, it is necessary to consult a doctor first for the treatment of this condition and for differential diagnosis. Doctors generally start a medication treatment appropriate to the type of parasite and the severity of the infection. Medicines are taken for 1-3 days and repeated in the same doses after 2 weeks if necessary. Since intestinal worms are a contagious condition, it is recommended that medications be used by the family. Symptoms usually subside or may disappear completely within a few weeks after medication use. In order for the treatment to be effective, it is important to take the medications in the dose and duration specified by the doctor. After treatment is completed, a new stool test may be performed to detect whether the parasites have disappeared.
How to Prevent Intestinal Worms?
Some of the methods to prevent the risk of intestinal worms are:
- Hand hygiene: One of the most effective methods to prevent intestinal worms and other contagious infections is to wash hands frequently with soap and water. Hands should be washed thoroughly, especially after going to the toilet, after contact with animals, and after coming from outside.
- Toilet use: Shared toilets may increase the risk of transmission of intestinal worms. For this reason, it is recommended to clean toilets before and after each use and to avoid using toilets in public places as much as possible. In addition, washing hands with plenty of water and soap after using the toilet is also a hygiene rule that should be taken into consideration.
- Cleaning vegetables and fruits: Vegetables and fruits should be washed well before eating or cooking. This is important to remove parasite eggs and debris that may be present in vegetables and fruits.
- Cooking meat: Cooking meat at high temperatures and sufficiently before eating can prevent the removal of parasites that may occur in meat.
- Use of common items: If there is an infected or suspected infected person in the family, it may be necessary to separate shared items. In particular, keeping towels, sheets, cups, combs and personal care products separate can reduce the risk of contamination.
The methods mentioned may be useful for preventing intestinal worm infections. However, if there are children in the family or risk factors, it may be useful to have regular health checks. If you or your children have symptoms of intestinal worms, you can consult a healthcare provider.