When we speak of “worms” we are actually referring to a varied group of parasites that normally affect young children (1-5 years old) or schoolchildren.
It has a greater incidence among this group of the population because at this stage they have not yet acquired or it is still difficult to become accustomed to maintaining basic hygiene behaviours, which in adulthood are understood.
The eggs and larvae of these parasites remain alive on any surface or in water for a relatively long period of time at room temperature.
These parasites spread quickly because of the context in which they reproduce and contagion can occur for various reasons such as:
- Lack of personal hygiene.
- Intake of worm eggs or larvae in contaminated food, water, or raw meat.
- Transcutaneous penetration of these while the children play on the floor.
- Contact with the infected person’s clothing or bedding.
- Use of public restrooms.
- Contact with feces from infected humans or animals.
Infection may occur in different ways, but the end is essentially the same. The objective of these parasites is to reach the intestinal area and whether they enter through the skin or mouth of the infected person, they will always try to make their way to this area.
Each type of parasite makes a different route within the body and different organs may be involved (lungs, brain, eyes or circulatory tract).
In order to make an accurate diagnosis, specialists analyze the different signs of infection presented by each patient.
Below is a list that reviews the symptoms of the most common parasites depending on the organs affected:
- Giardiasis (Protozoa): Watery, foul-smelling diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, and abdominal pain.
- Oxyuriasis (Nematodes or cylindrical worms): Unbearable itching of the anal and genital area (even interrupting nighttime sleep), skin irritation from scratching, abdominal pain (sometimes confused with appendicitis), and swelling or infection of the vaginal vulva.
- Trichocephalosis (Nematodes or cylindrical worms): Colic, occasional diarrhea, stools with blood and mucus, and rectal prolapse.
- Hymenolepiasis (Cestodes or flatworms): Mild symptoms including abdominal pain and swelling caused by the accumulation of gas and diarrhea.
- Teniasis (flatworms): Nausea, abdominal pain and swelling, and intense itching when the parasite slides into the anal or perineal area.
- Lung and digestive system
- Ascariasis (Nematodes or cylindrical worms): Abdominal pain and swelling, intestinal obstruction, fever, cough, abundant phlegm (reaction to the passage of parasites through the pulmonary zone), accumulation of pus in the liver.
- Digestive, pulmonary and skin systems
- Ankylostomiasis or uncinariasis (Nematodes or cylindrical worms): Dermatitis caused by larvae moving through the skin, usually present in legs, feet and between toes.
Fever, cough, phlegm, heartburn, inflammation of liver, stomach, intestines and pancreas and sometimes also diarrhea.
Strongyloidiasis (Nematodes or cylindrical worms): Dermatitis of the same characteristics as in the previous case, in addition to coughs and phlegm that sometimes become pneumonitis. Epigastric pain, vomiting, periods of diarrhea alternating with constipation.
In the case of immunocompromised patients, all these symptoms are more severe.
- Digestive system and tissues
- Amebiasis (Protozoa): Dysenteric colitis (stools with blood and mucus), colic, liver abscess and intestinal obstruction caused by amebas, nausea, abdominal swelling, gas, rectal urgency (feeling the need to defecate continuously) which in principle is accompanied by abundant stools that decrease in quantity later.
- Cryptosporidiasis (Protozoa): Watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting that can cause dehydration and weight loss, arthritis, hepatitis and eye damage.
- Cysticercosis (Cestodes or flatworms): Mainly affects the central nervous system and can cause meningitis, subcutaneous nodules, chronic epilepsy, disorientation, headache, memory loss, psychotic syndrome, intracranial hypertension, and if the muera larva can cause blindness, retinal detachment, inflammation and uveal reaction.
The great problem of this group of affections is that they can not present symptoms until being in a very advanced state, it is then when they appear the pictures with more serious signs of each one of the infections, arriving to cause dehydration, malnutrition, anemia, anorexia and in the worst cases the death.
In this case we could summarize the treatment in one word: prevention. It is very important to extreme the measures of personal hygiene and of the home, since it is impossible that we can control the cleanliness of all the places in which we are throughout the day we and our family, the most effective remedy turns out to be to prevent the contagion.
The following are some recommendations that it is essential that we take into account:
- Wash hands well and under fingernails with soap and hot water.
- Wash clothes, sheets, pajamas and towels with hot water and bleach.
- Wash food properly.
- Seek help from a specialist who can prescribe specific medications for each parasite.
- Replacement of electrolytesand fluids lost orally or intravenously.
- Limit contact with infected people.
- To control as far as possible the hygiene of the playground, parks and places of leisure.
- Ensure proper disposal of excreta (human and animal).
- To control the quality of meat for consumption and its correct preparation.
- Avoid ingestion of sugary foods, alcohol, milk and other dairy products and reduce consumption of refined carbohydrates.
- Make sure the water we drink is safe to drink.
- To make the population aware of the danger of contracting an infection of this type and the consequences that this entails.
Home and Natural Remedies
As previously stated, it is best to avoid contagion, but if you have already observed the various symptoms and have a diagnosis, it is best to try to eat foods that allow a speedy recovery. The following list details some remedies made with natural products:
- Carrot: Taken raw on an empty stomach can help eliminate parasites and prevent future attacks.
- Papaya: Prepare a mixture with a spoonful of the extract of this fruit with a spoonful of honey and a teaspoonful of castor oil. Or mix the pulp and seeds to make a shake to be taken on an empty stomach.
- Parsley: Prepare an infusion with the leaves and drink two liters a day.
- Pineapple: Eat a piece of pineapple and garlic on an empty stomach and another at noon for 3 days.
- Lemonade: Drinking lemonade will help expel parasites more easily while helping to rehydrate the body.
- Garlic: Place 3 cloves of garlic in boiling water, let stand overnight and drink the next morning on an empty stomach.
- Pumpkin seeds: Mix a glass of water with two tablespoons of crushed seeds and drink on an empty stomach.