INTESTINAL WORMS AND HOW THEY AFFECT YOUR HEALTH
You must have heard about intestinal worms or seen someone suffering from the problems they caused. Or at least you may have seen their images online. Have you ever asked yourself how some people ended up with these scary creatures living in their belly?
Even the thought of being a host to a worm is enough to cause you anxiety. Are you speculating on how they affect or what they do to your health? Do you wish to know how these worms find their way into your intestines and how to avoid them? No worries, read on:
Intestinal worms are parasites that enter your body and continue to live and nourish in your intestines. Their presence in your body leads to harmful effects on your health. These worms are usually round in shape but may be short (a millimetre) or very long (many centimetres).
Intestinal worm infection is an important public health problem all over the world. More than one billion people are infected. The infection is more common in some regions of the world where sanitation is poor. However the good news is that these worms don’t usually kill their hosts. But they may take a large portion of your resources (nutrients) leading to malnutrition.
Types of Intestinal Worms
At least five (5) different types of intestinal worms are known that infect humans. These include: Roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides); Hookworm (Necator americanus); Whipworm (Trichuris trichiura); Pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis); and Small roundworm (Strongyloides stercoralis). These worms are different because they have different sizes, shapes, life cycle and the locations they are found.
Roundworm (Ascaris) Infection
Humans are affected by roundworm more than any other intestinal worms. The worms are long and may reach up to 40 centimetres in length. The female Ascaris worm lays 240,000 eggs per day which are then brought out of your body through faeces (stool). The eggs need to mix with the soil for some weeks before they become matured. Only the matured eggs can infect you.
When you eat food contaminated with the matured eggs they get hatched in your intestine and find its way to your blood. The larvae (immature worm) are then transported through the blood circulation to your lungs. They then crawl up the respiratory system to reach your throat and are swallowed back into the intestines. Here they continue to grow to become adult worms and start laying eggs. It takes about three (3) months after eating the contaminated food with matured eggs before the female worm start producing eggs.
Ascaris infection is transmitted where human faeces is used in farms as fertilizer. It is also spread when the soil is contaminated by human faeces due to poor sanitation.
Symptoms of Round Worm Infection
You may have cough and burning pain in the chest (especially during cough or when taking a deep breath). You may also develop fever, difficulty in breathing, abdominal pain and sometimes yellowness of eyes (jaundice). Jaundice occurs when the worm enter and block the gallbladder. In some scary situations you may cough out the adult worm through the mouth. This happens when the worm crawl up from your intestines into the oesophagus.
To be continued:
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Image Source: Pixabay
Papadakis, M. A. & McPhee, S. J. (2017). Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment. 53. McGraw –Hill. USA
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