GI Worms

GI Worms

GI worms infect the gut and lay eggs around your anus which causes itching.  Eggs can survive for up to 2 weeks before hatching.


  • Worms in children are common but anyone of any age can be affected
  • Treatment available to treat infections


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Description

Worms are also known as helminths. They are infectious parasites which enter and live in our body. Worms can be divided into three main types:


Roundworms

Roundworms are also known as nematodes. They are parasites with a long round body and are commonly found in warm tropical countries. Roundworms mostly affect children. Treatments are available with increased effectiveness. But it is difficult to completely wipe out roundworm infections.


Roundworms usually live in the gut but some species can travel to different parts of the body. Areas with poor sanitation are more prone to cause this infection. Soil and water supplies can become contaminated with roundworm eggs. In moist soil, these eggs may survive for years. They develop into small larvae which can get into the human body if you come in contact with such places or eat contaminated food.


If you are infected with roundworms, the symptoms visible could be:


  • Nutritional problems with children
  • Poor growth
  • High fever
  • Tiredness
  • Allergic reactions
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nerve problems
  • Cough


However, many people may not suffer from any symptoms.


Tapeworms

A tapeworm infection typically occurs when food or water, especially undercooked or raw meat, which has become contaminated with either tapeworm eggs or larvae is ingested. Direct contact with animal faeces can also be a way of becoming infected. Tapeworms are intestinal parasites which can be characterised by their shape which is often described as looking like a long ribbon or tape measure. A tapeworm cannot survive by living in solitary; it can only live within the gut of an animal, humans included.


If you ingest tapeworm eggs you develop an invasive infection which is where the eggs migrate outside your intestines, causing larval cysts to sprout in body tissue and certain organs. Tapeworm larvae quickly develop into adult tapeworms inside your intestines, known as an intestinal infection. A tapeworm can live for up to 30 years in the gut of a host. Those who become infected by a tapeworm will generally experience little to no symptoms and can often be completely unaware that they are infected in the first place.


If symptoms show, they can include:


  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite or extreme hunger
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (such as B12 deficiency)


In very rare cases, a tapeworm infection can lead to serious further complications such as the blocking of the intestine he only way a person can identify a tapeworm infection is by seeing segments of the worms in a bowel movement; potentially still moving.


Fluke worms

These worms live in the blood vessels, lungs, gut, and liver. Water can be contaminated with fluke worms. When you wash in freshwater or go swimming, you may catch the infection.


People infected with fluke worms may notice the following symptoms:


  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hives
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss


There are ways to prevent fluke worms. These may include:


  • Cleanliness
  • Thoroughly cook freshwater fish and other eatables
  • Avoid food and water which could potentially be contaminated
  • Avoid using public pools

Causes

Worms can be introduced into the human body by various means. Typically, they are ingested by means of undercooked, unwashed, and highly contaminated food items. Contaminated water is also another big reason. This could be while drinking or absorption through the skin which means swimming. Contact with infected soil can also spread the infection into the body.


Poor hygiene and sanitation can also be reasons for worms to enter in the human body and live there. Once you are infected with the parasites, they live and reproduce inside your body. As they grow, symptoms start to be visible and this may cause discomfort to you.

Types Of Treatment

A lot of people who become infected with a worm will never require treatment. It eventually exits the body on its own. Some people never even realize that they had the infection, to begin with, due to no symptoms being discernible. If you believe that you may have a worm infection, see your doctor immediately to receive a proper diagnosis. There may be a requirement of a stool sample in order to properly diagnose the condition and identify the exact type of worm which is causing you issues.


Medicines

The most common form of treatment used for worm infections would be oral medication which generally works by paralysing or starving them. They prevent the worms from absorbing the sugars they need to survive. This kills the worms. Some medicines work by paralyzing the worms in the intestine. This easily removes them from the gut and out of the body through stools.


Some of these medicines are:


Mebendazole

This is one of the most common medicines prescribed to treat worm infections. It works by preventing the worm from absorbing sugar which is needed for its ongoing survival. This medicine kills the worm but fails to kill the eggs. This means that it is of paramount importance that you avoid reinfecting yourself. Always wash your hands before eating or subsequent to using the toilet.


  • Levamisole
  • Praziquantel
  • Niclosamide
  • Albendazole
  • Tiabendazole


The medication that you are prescribed will depend on the type of worm you have become infected with and the location of the infection. Once treatment has been undergone, you should have your stool samples rechecked anywhere from 1-3 months after finishing your course.


In general, these medicines are taken for a short period of time. The exact duration of the course will depend on the type of the worm and the severity of it.



If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.


Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!

Questions & Answers

How common are they?

Yes. Tapeworm infections can be completely cured if properly treated with effective medicine. Though we only offer one type of medicine ourselves for this condition, we can recommend other forms of treatment if we believe them to be better suited to your case; you would have to obtain these from your GP/doctor.


How common are they?

Tapeworm infections are common all over the world and can be traced to every continent. However, the areas with the highest rates of reported infections are Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and areas around Europe and Asia.


Can tapeworm infections be lethal?

In the vast majority of times, no. However, if the rare case of Cysticercosis occurs, in which the cysticerci (a larval tapeworm at the sage of its life in which the scolex is inverted) has become lodged in the brain and has to remain undiagnosed for a very long period of time, it could potentially result in death.


How do I prevent a tapeworm infection?

Considering the fact that the most common way of contracting this infection is from the consumption of raw or undercooked meat, the best prevention method you can take is to ensure you’re cooking meat thoroughly.



If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.


Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!

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