Worms In Humans: Treat Intestinal Worms Through Hygiene
Poor hygiene can be the cause of so many sickness and diseases. One of the most common effects of habitual poor hygiene is intestinal worms. These parasites or intestinal worms in humans are unicellular or multicellular organisms that can reside in the gastrointestinal tract and live off their host for a long period of time. Children are prone to getting intestinal worms, but adults can also be at risk, especially if they have very poor hygiene. If these parasitic worms are left untreated, it can cause many serious diseases and it can even be life-threatening.
Intestinal worms can be found in fruits and vegetables, especially if they are fertilized with animal manure. They live in the soil, rivers, lakes, puddles, and almost everywhere. These parasites are very good in surviving because they can live and infect almost all animals from insects to larger mammals.
Here are the most common types of intestinal worms in humans that you should be aware of:
Roundworms – Ascaris lumbricoides is a type of roundworm that can cause ascariasis, which will be further discussed in this article. Children are at a very high risk of having ascariasis because they always play with pets or stray animals that have not been dewormed. The eggs of roundworms can remain dormant for many years and they can become active after ingestion. The Ascaris parasites are also dangerous because they can migrate to the other parts of the body.
Flatworms – the most common and problematic type of flatworm for humans are tapeworms and flukes. Tapeworms in humans are often caused by consuming raw meat and uncooked food. Infestation of this type of worm can become dangerous because it can migrate to other parts of the body.
Pinworms – they are also called threadworms and it is a type of roundworm. There are three different pinworm species but the Enterobius vermicularis is the only one that can infect the intestinal tract of humans and cause enterobiasis. Strict personal hygiene should be practiced to avoid infection and reinfection of this type of parasitic worm.
Hookworms – hookworm infection is caused by poor hygiene and living in unsanitary conditions. This type of parasitic worm can live up to 5 years and inhabit the small intestine where it feeds on the blood of the human. This is the reason why anemia is the most telling sign of infestation. They can infect the humans by penetrating the skin to reach the circulatory system.
Whipworms – this type of parasitic worm causes the whipworm infection or trichuriasis. There may be no symptom in many individuals but when the population increases inside the intestine, it can cause abdominal pain, fatigue, and bloody diarrhea. Infection usually occurs when people eat unwashed fruits and vegetables, or people forget to wash their hands.
Symptoms and Causes of Worms in Humans
Intestinal worms in humans can live for many years without causing any symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms that you have to look out for if you think you have intestinal worms.
- Abdominal pain
- Gas or bloating
- Dysentery or loose stool with blood and mucus
- Stomach pain and tenderness
- Rash or itching around the rectum or vulva
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weight loss
- Always feeling tired
- Passing a worm in your stool
Some of the Less Common Signs or Intestinal Worms
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Muscle or joint pain
- Screeching teeth during sleep
- B vitamin deficiency
- Constant feeling of hunger
- Depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety and constant feeling of apathy
- Constant coughing
- Night sweats
What causes intestinal worms? Knowing the causes of this condition can help you lower your risk of getting these nasty parasitic worms into your body. Try to remember these different causes and always maintain a good daily hygiene to make sure your environment is safe.
- Poor hygiene
- Contaminated water
- Unwashed and contaminated fruits and vegetables
- Raw or uncooked meat
- Touching and handling contaminated soil
- Walking barefoot
- Handling fertilizers such as human and animal manure
- Living or visiting an area where worms and parasites can be found
- Weak immune system
- Lack of sanitation
If you are already infected by intestinal worms, it will only be a matter of time before the other members of your household also get infected. Human transmission of parasitic worms can become easier if you don’t wash your hands regularly and there is poor sanitation in and around your home. You should practice some prevention methods in order to lower your risk of having intestinal worms.
Ascariasis is an infection of the small intestines, and it is caused by a species of roundworm called Ascaris lumbricoides. Ascariasis is the most common roundworm infection and it is most common in places without modern sanitation.
You can get infected if you accidentally ingest the egg of an ascariasis roundworm. Usually, the eggs are found in soil contaminated by human feces. It can also be found in uncooked food, fruits, and vegetables contaminated by soil that contains the eggs. Children can be highly at risk because they often put their hands in their mouth after handling or touching the contaminated soils.
This type of roundworm can be found worldwide but it is more common in tropical and subtropical countries. The environmental risk factors for ascariasis include:
- Visiting warmer climates
- Lack of modern hygiene and sanitation infrastructure
- Exposure to outdoor environment
The symptoms of ascariasis and roundworm infestation include:
- Vomiting roundworms
- Coughing or gagging
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular stool
- Weight loss
- Visible worm in stool
Best Intestinal Worms Treatments
There are several treatment options that can help eliminate those nasty parasitic worms inside your intestinal tract. However, it is also recommended to do some preventive methods so you can lower your risk of being infected. Before you learn these treatment options, here are some ways on how you can prevent intestinal parasites.
- Practice good hygiene – washing your hands frequently, especially after going out or handling dirty objects, can prevent many diseases, including intestinal parasites. Good hygiene also includes changing your bed linens and changing your underwear regularly. Washing your clothes and underwear at high temperature can destroy the eggs and prevent infection.
- Wash and cook your food – always wash vegetables and fruits before eating them. Try to avoid consuming meats or fish that are undercooked. Foods fertilized with human and animal manure is also very risky to consume.
- Drink clean water – make sure that your drinking water source is always clean. You can boil and filter your water first, or you can buy bottled to make sure there are no parasites in them. Don’t take a risk when you are not sure whether the water you are drinking is contaminated or not.
- Disinfect your house and leave shoes at the door – don’t make it a habit of bringing in your shoes and outdoor footwear into your house. Use a clean pair of indoor footwear that you only use inside the house. You can disinfect your home and the soles of your shoes with diluted chlorine once in a while.
- Do not play with stray animals – stray cats and dogs that have not been dewormed are very likely to have parasitic worms that can be transferred to humans. Again, good hygiene plays an important role in this scenario. You need to wash your hands and clean yourself after touching a pet or stray animal that have not been dewormed. Kids are very susceptible because they might put their hands in their mouth after touching the fur of the animal. Teach your kids proper hygiene and wash their hands often.
Treatments of Intestinal Parasites
Here are the best treatment options that you can try if you are infected with intestinal parasites.
- Antihelmintic Medication – this is a type of medication that can eliminate intestinal parasites or intestinal worms in humans. One of the most effective medication is called the mebendazole therapy, which can be prescribed in one or smaller doses and taken over a period of 3 days, twice a day. There will also be the last dose that should be taken 10 to 14 days after the completion of the treatment to make sure that all remaining eggs are killed.
Mebendazole therapy has also shown promising results for treating cancer by reducing tumor size and preventing the spread of the disease.
- Surgery – this is only recommended if the situation is extremely severe and the intestinal worm infestation has grown out of control. Surgery is required when there are enough worms inside that clump together and puts a great strain in the body of the host. This case happens to individuals living in extreme poverty and with a total lack of hygiene and sanitation. If the worm infestation is left untreated, the worms grow in numbers and clump together in various parts of the body. Medication is no longer effective and the only option is to perform a surgery.
- Herbal Treatment – it is an alternative treatment that can help strengthen and tone the different internal systems of your body. These herbs are usually available as dried extracts and taken as capsules, teas, or powder. Many of these herbs might have some toxic side effects and it can also interfere with other medications. It is recommended to consult your doctor first if you are planning to take herbal treatment. Some of the herbs that are used to treat intestinal worm infestation include garlic, barberry, Oregon grape, black walnuts, anise, and curled mint.