Helminthiases are widespread in the modern world. They are capable of affecting many organs and tissues, disrupting their work. Moreover, 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 unregistered cases, this number can increase several times. Infection of children and adolescents occurs more often.
All helminths can be divided into extraintestinal (tissue) and intestinal. The hosts of tissue are animals, people serve as an intermediate host for them. In this case, the disease will manifest itself in different ways, depending on which organ the larva will migrate to. For example, if the larva migrates through the lungs, then 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 ways of infection?
- Through soil and water (geohelminthiasis) - soil contamination occurs when helminth eggs enter it with feces of people or animals. If you eat poorly processed root vegetables or water from open reservoirs, helminth eggs will enter the body. Therefore, all vegetables, fruits, berries must be thoroughly washed with tap water and treated with boiling water. Drinking water from open reservoirs is prohibited. This route of infection is also possible when people come into contact with animals, especially pets. More often, therefore, children become infected when playing with them.
- Contact with an infected person (for example, pinworms). During sleep, the pinworm is able to crawl out of the anus and lay eggs. The patient has itching. The eggs remain on the hands, under the nails, and, if they are not removed from the skin in time, remain on all objects that the infected person has come into contact with.
- Biohelminthiasis - infection when eating meat, lard, fish that have not undergone sufficient heat treatment, or were eaten raw.
- Through insect bites.
Helminths are basically a children's problem, as children, in the process of learning about the world, pull dirty hands and various objects into their mouths, tasting them. This problem will be solved only by the age of three to six years, and before that time, children have a higher risk of infection than adults.
Common signs of infection
What signs will tell about the appearance of helminthiasis?
Symptoms of helminthiasis can be similar to diseases of certain organs: gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, nervous system, immune system. Helminthiases can manifest themselves like allergic reactions.
Disorders of the gastrointestinal tract
Localization of parasites in the intestine is manifested by symptoms of upset stomach and intestines: the appearance of vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, bloating, pain in the umbilical region, in the right hypochondrium. Constipation can 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 manifestation also depends on the number of helminths. Symptoms of dysfunction of the nervous system are as follows: dizziness, headache, nausea - symptoms that resemble a migraine. Fever, muscle and joint pain is 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, sometimes vomiting can be observed. A burning sensation is possible in the throat, mouth and nose. Nasal congestion and sneezing appear. How to distinguish allergies from symptoms of helminth infection? 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;
- a child's attendance at kindergarten;
- have difficulty breathing every two weeks;
- eosinophils in the blood test over 8%;
- lack of effect from antiallergic therapy;
- in the study for immunoglobulins, IgE is increased, while the study for allergens is negative.
If the patient has the listed symptoms, allergic manifestations are associated with parasitic invasion.
When parasites enter the lungs, symptoms similar to pneumonia may appear: cough, fever, hemoptysis. A sore throat may also indicate helminthiasis. When 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 kind can appear not only due to the presence of parasites in the throat, but also if they migrate through the nasopharynx. Mucus taken for analysis will help to identify worms in the throat.
Decreased immune defenses
Due to the fact that helminths deprive the host of vitamins and minerals, and also have a toxic effect, a decrease in immune defense is observed. This is manifested by frequent colds or exacerbations of chronic diseases in remission, inflammation in the throat.
Damage to the female reproductive system
Violation of the functioning of the reproductive system in a woman does not always indicate gynecological diseases. Helminth in the female body can also manifest itself as symptoms of dysfunction of the reproductive system. By what symptoms can one 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 the genitals.
In women, thrush can become a sign of helminthiasis. Thrush in women can develop due to a decrease in immunity and a violation of microflora, which is just possible with helminthiasis. Possible inflammatory diseases of the reproductive system in women. Along with this, hair may fall out and nails may exfoliate, and drowsiness and fatigue may occur. All of the above are the symptoms of helminthic invasion in women.
How to determine the type of helminth by symptoms
How to determine which helminths have 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 helminthic invasion can appear both after two days and six months, depending on the type of helminth.
Pinworms, enterobiasis - you can suspect an invasion of these helminths if you are concerned about itching in the anal area, which becomes more frequent at night. Usually itching lasts for several days, then goes away for a while and appears again.
Trichocephalosis, schistosomiasis, diphyllobothriasis - the main symptom is anemia and vitamin deficiency. Such manifestations are associated with the toxic effects of worms on the intestines and the development of dysbiosis.
Roundworms - at the initial stage of infection with roundworms, weakness, coughing, there may be blood in the sputum, fever, suffocation is possible (with a high number of the parasite). In a blood test, the level of eosinophils is increased, and allergic reactions appear. At a later stage, the functions of the gastrointestinal tract are disrupted: proteins are not digested, there is a strong weight loss.
Trichinosis - worms are localized in the muscles. At the initial stage, the disease is manifested by nausea, vomiting, and impaired appetite. At the next stage, helminths are localized in the muscles and cause muscle pain, swelling in the eyelids, fever, and rashes on the skin. Further, there is an apparent recovery, but the worms are in the muscles. Parasites cause dense lesions in the muscles.
Fascioliasis, opisthorchiasis - it is possible to suspect an invasion of these parasites if there is yellowness of the skin, enlargement of the liver, spleen, inflammation of the pancreas, dysfunction of the gastrointestinal tract.
Strongyloidosis - manifested by symptoms indicating a dysfunction of the biliary tract, dyspepsia and allergies.
When should you seek help from a specialist? Positive answers to the following questions will help with a high degree of probability to diagnose the presence of helminths in the body:
- itching in the anal area;
- nausea, vomiting;
- constipation or diarrhea;
- allergic manifestations;
- rash on the skin;
- enlarged lymph nodes;
- frequent headaches, dizziness;
- restless sleep;
- there is bitterness in the mouth;
- tiredness, drowsiness;
- stomach ache;
- yellowness of the skin;
- the family has children attending 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 answers, 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 a helminth, 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 on the eggs of the worm.
- Scraping from the anus.
- Scraping for enterobiasis.
- Complete blood count (an increase in the level of eosinophils).
- Scraping from the vagina in women.
- Blood test for giardiasis.
- Search for antibodies by serological methods; when can antibodies be found in the body? Twenty-one or more days after worm infestation.
- Study of the operating material (for echinococcosis).
- Lymph node biopsy (cysticercosis).
- Muscle biopsy - trichinosis.
For the treatment of helminthiasis, there are tablets with a narrow and wide spectrum of action. Treatment of a certain type of helminth must be done with certain drugs. Tablets are prescribed only by a doctor after all examinations, since anti-worm pills have a toxic effect on the body. Therefore, the doctor will select the necessary treatment regimen and duration, taking into account age and weight.
The following tablets are often used to treat helminthiasis:
- medicines containing mebendazole are suitable for the treatment of trichocephalosis;
- tablets containing Levamisole - used for ascariasis, enterobiasis, trichostrongylosis, strongyloidiasis.
In advanced cases, the pills may not help, then surgical treatment is used.