Helminthiases are common in the modern world. They are capable of affecting many organs and tissues, interfering with their work. Furthermore, the clinical picture of helminthiasis in humans can be very diverse. What are the symptoms of worms in humans?
According to statistics, annually about two million people are infected with helminths, however, taking into account the unreported cases, this number can increase several times. Infection of children and adolescents occurs more frequently.
All helminths can be divided into extra-intestinal (tissue) and intestinal. Tissue hosts are animals, people serve as intermediate hosts for them. In this case, the disease will manifest itself in different ways, depending on the organ to which the larva will migrate. For example, if the larva migrates through the lungs, the symptoms will mimic pneumonia, if through the intestines - bleeding, an inflammatory reaction; migration through the pancreas or bile ducts threatens to block them.
How can you get infected?
What are the forms of infection?
- Through soil and water (geohelminthiasis) - Soil contamination occurs when helminth eggs enter it with feces from people or animals. If you eat poorly processed roots or water from open reservoirs, helminth eggs will enter the body. Therefore, all vegetables, fruits and berries should be washed well with tap water and treated with boiling water. It is prohibited to drink water from open reservoirs. This route of infection is also possible when people come into contact with animals, especially pets. More often, therefore, children become infected when they play with them.
- Contact with an infected person (eg pinworms). During sleep, moths are able to crawl out of the anus and lay eggs. The patient is itchy. Eggs remain on the hands, under the nails and, if not removed from the skin in time, remain on all objects the infected person has come into contact with.
- Biohelminthiasis - infection from eating meat, lard, fish that have not been heat treated enough or eaten raw.
- Through insect bites.
Helminths are basically a problem for children, as children, in the process of learning about the world, pull their dirty hands and various objects into their mouths, tasting them. This problem will not resolve until around three to six years of age, and before that, children are at greater risk of infection than adults.
common signs of infection
What signs will tell of the onset of helminthiasis?
The symptoms of helminthiasis can be similar to diseases of certain organs: gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, nervous system, immune system. Helminthiases can manifest as allergic reactions.
Disorders of the gastrointestinal tract
The location of the parasites in the intestine is manifested by symptoms of stomach and intestinal discomfort: appearance of vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, abdominal distension, pain in the umbilical region, in the right hypochondrium. Constipation may be associated with mechanical occlusion of the intestinal lumen by helminths. The severity of symptoms depends on the number of helminths in the body.
Nervous system disorders and general manifestations
They are associated with the release of toxic substances by parasites. The intensity of the manifestation also depends on the number of helminths. Symptoms of nervous system dysfunction are as follows: dizziness, headache, nausea - symptoms that resemble a migraine. Fever, muscle and joint pain are possible. Drowsiness, irritation, sleep disturbances, anemia appear.
With allergic manifestations, the gastrointestinal tract, skin and respiratory system are affected. Itching, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness appear, vomiting can sometimes be observed. A burning sensation in the throat, mouth and nose is possible. Nasal congestion and sneezing appear. How to distinguish allergies from helminth infection symptoms? The following anamnestic and laboratory signs should be considered:
- the patient's relatives have no history of allergies;
- the patient had no history of allergic reactions;
- attendance of a child in kindergarten;
- have difficulty breathing every two weeks;
- eosinophils in the blood test above 8%;
- lack of effect of antiallergic therapy;
- in the study for immunoglobulins, IgE is increased, while the study for allergens is negative.
If the patient has the symptoms listed, allergic manifestations will be associated with parasite invasion.
When the parasites enter the lungs, symptoms similar to those of pneumonia may appear: cough, fever, hemoptysis. Sore throat can also indicate helminthiasis. When the worms migrate from the intestines to the lungs, a sore throat can occur. A sore throat is a sign of the presence of a foreign body. There is a dry cough that cannot be stopped. A cough of this type can arise not only from the presence of parasites in the throat, but also if they migrate through the nasopharynx. The mucus taken for analysis will help identify worms in the throat.
Decrease in immune defenses
Due to the fact that helminths deprive the host of vitamins and minerals, in addition to having a toxic effect, there is a decrease in immune defense. This is manifested by frequent colds or exacerbations of chronic diseases in remission, sore throat.
Damage to the female reproductive system
Violation of the functioning of the reproductive system in women does not always indicate gynecological diseases. Helminths in the female body can also manifest as symptoms of reproductive system dysfunction. By what symptoms can we suspect the presence of helminths in the female genital organs? The defeat of the reproductive system by worms in women is manifested by secretions, an unpleasant odor from Organs genitals.
In women, thrush can become a sign of helminthiasis. Candidiasis can develop in women due to decreased immunity and violation of the microflora, which is only possible with helminthiasis. Possible inflammatory diseases of the reproductive system in women. Along with this, hair can fall out and nails can exfoliate, and drowsiness and fatigue can occur. All of the above are symptoms of helminthic invasion in women.
How to determine the type of helminths by symptoms
How to determine which helminths invaded the body? Symptoms are determined by the location of the parasite in the body and its type. When do the first symptoms appear? The first signs of helminth invasion may appear after two days and six months, depending on the type of helminth.
Pinworms, Enterobiasis - You may suspect an invasion of these helminths if you are concerned about itchiness in the anal area, which becomes more frequent at night. Usually, the itch lasts for several days, then it goes away for a while and reappears.
Trichocephalosis, schistosomiasis, diphylobotriasis - the main symptom is anemia and vitamin deficiency. These manifestations are associated with the toxic effects of worms in the intestines and the development of dysbiosis.
Roundworms - in the initial phase of infection with roundworms, weakness, cough, there may be blood in the sputum, fever, it is possible to suffocate (with a high number of the parasite). In a blood test, the level of eosinophils rises and allergic reactions develop. At a later stage, the functions of the gastrointestinal tract are interrupted: proteins are not digested, there is a strong loss of weight.
Trichinosis - the worms are located in the muscles. In the early stage, the disease manifests itself as nausea, vomiting and decreased appetite. In the next stage, the helminths are located in the muscles and cause muscle pain, eyelid swelling, fever, and a rash. Also, there is an apparent recovery, but the worms are in the muscles. The parasites cause dense damage to the muscles.
Fascioliasis, opistorchiasis - an invasion of these parasites can be suspected if there is skin yellowing, liver enlargement, spleen, pancreas inflammation, gastrointestinal tract dysfunction.
Strongyloidosis - manifested by symptoms that indicate biliary tract dysfunction, dyspepsia, and allergies.
When should you seek help from an expert? Positive answers to the following questions will help to diagnose the presence of helminths in the body with a high degree of probability:
- itchiness in the anal region;
- nausea, vomiting;
- constipation or diarrhea;
- allergic manifestations;
- skin rash;
- enlarged lymph nodes;
- frequent headaches, dizziness;
- restless sleep;
- there is bitterness in the mouth;
- tiredness, drowsiness;
- yellowing of the skin;
- the family has children in kindergarten;
- pain in muscles and joints, not caused by anything;
- periodic increase in body temperature;
- there are animals in the house;
- eating insufficiently thermally processed meat, lard or fish;
- losing weight;
- the use of unwashed vegetables and fruits that have not been previously treated with boiling water.
The more positive responses, the greater the risk of having helminths in the body. If there are seven positive answers, then there is a probability of the presence of helminths; if more than fifteen, then the probability of the presence of a helminth in the body is very high.
What methods of diagnosing parasites in the body are used?
- Feces in the worm eggs.
- Scraping the anus.
- Scraping for enterobiasis.
- Complete blood count (increased level of eosinophils).
- Shaving of the vagina in women.
- Blood test for giardiasis.
- Antibody research by serological methods; when can antibodies be found in the body? Twenty-one or more days after worm infestation.
- Study of the operative material (for echinococcosis).
- Lymph node biopsy (cysticercosis).
- Muscle biopsy - trichinosis.
For the treatment of helminthiasis, there are pills with a narrow and broad spectrum of action. Treatment of certain types of helminths must be done with certain medications. The pills are only prescribed by the doctor after all tests, as the anti-worm pills have a toxic effect on the body. Therefore, the doctor will select the treatment regimen and duration needed, taking into account age and weight.
The following pills are often used to treat helminthiasis:
- medications containing mebendazole are suitable for the treatment of trichocephalosis;
- tablets containing Levamisol - used for ascariasis, enterobiasis, trichostrongylosis, strongyloidiasis.
In advanced cases, pills may not help, so surgical treatment is used.