Roundworm belongs to a group of parasites we call worms or nematodes (after their oblique or cylindrical bodies). Given the different features, such as body structure or reproduction, we distinguish between pinworms and giant roundworms.
Both types of roundworm are widespread throughout the world and each year they affect between half a billion and one billion people. Unlike most other parasitic diseases, roundworm is very widespread in the developed countries; however, bad hygienic conditions and warm and humid climate are extremely beneficial to it. The disease itself is not so serious and leaves no permanent consequences, but a timely detection of the symptoms can drastically shorten the duration of the disease and remove unpleasant symptoms.
Pinworm (Enterobius Vermicularis)
In order to comprehend the means of infection and disease spreading, it is important to be aware of some details of the pinworm’s lifespan. Pinworms are a common occurrence, even in developed countries, and their only targets are humans.
The main cause of the primary infection are most often unhygienic conditions, which enable the encounter of children with pinworm eggs. Eggs can be found in food, water, clothing, linen, laundry or nature in general, where warm and humid conditions favor them.
The eggs are usually transmitted through the feco-oral route, i.e. when pathogens in fecal particles contaminate the food, or when the eggs are directly introduced into the oral cavity.
The possibility of autoinfection in individuals who have already previously been infected also dishes up the large spread of the pinworm. In these individuals, male and female pathogens live in the appendix: this results in fertilization, after which the female heads for the anal area (anus) to lay a large amount of eggs. Eggs can then be transferred back to food or into the mouth, allowing the infection to last very long.
The symptoms of the infection do not pose a serious threat to health, but may be very unpleasant and significantly aggravate the quality of life.
In extreme cases complications may arise, especially when penetrating into the peritoneal cavity, the appendix or the female urinary tract (due to the short urethra and the proximity of the anus, where the eggs are located).
Itching in the Anal Area
The main symptom that urges the patients to consult with their physicians is itching in the anal area, and since pinworm females lay eggs at night, the itching appears mostly around that time. All this is also directly associated with insomnia, fatigue, and bad mood. In a number of cases, however, the infection may also be asymptomatic.
Other symptoms are:
- unpleasant sensations in the anal area
- skin irritation in the anal area
- abdominal pain (less frequent)
- pinworms may be present in the stool, vaginal mucosa, or anus
- skin irritation and itching often cause insomnia and symptoms such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating
- increased risk of bacterial infection if you try to get rid of the itching by scratching
- because of the shortness of the urethra and the proximity of the anus, it is possible for the pinworm to enter the vagina and the bladder
The methods of diagnostics are safe, fast, simple and reliable, which is extremely important due to the unspecific symptoms. In the morning, before washing, it is necessary to paste the adhesive tape on the anus and the perineal area (a small area around the anus). Immediately after that the tape is removed and pasted onto the slides and sent to microscopy in the laboratory, where the eggs are found in case of infection. If you still feel symptoms despite a negative test result, it is recommended to get tested again.
Medications such as mebendazole and albendazole are used in the treatment of pinworm. Because of the rapid and frequent transmissions, physicians recommend treating all persons who are in frequent contact with the infected (family and class or kindergarten peers). Given the danger of reinfection, in certain cases it is necessary to repeat the treatment. Maintaining personal hygiene at a high level significantly impedes the spread and development of the disease.
Giant Roundworm (Ascaris Lumbricoides)
Great resistance to outside conditions allows the eggs of the giant roundworm a long survival in nature (up to two years). People usually get infected through the feco-oral route, and sometimes as a result of vegetable contamination which is a consequence of using human feces as a fertilizer.
Once the eggs are introduced into the small intestine, they begin to develop into larvae, which break the gastrointestinal wall and head for different organs. Most commonly they aim for the heart, liver and lungs, but they can also penetrate into the pancreatic or bile ducts and cause serious complications. Complications are also possible after the penetration into the peritoneal cavity. After penetrating into the lungs, the giant roundworm uses cough to reach the digestive tract and finally the small intestine where fertilization occurs, after which the female deposits large amounts of eggs. Eggs are transmitted into the environment by means of feces.
The symptoms are most often connected to the digestive system:
- nausea, cramps
Aside from that, the giant roundworm can cause damage to the pancreatic or bile ducts during its penetration of the gastrointestinal wall. If there is an infection with a large number of eggs, the development of the adult males and females (females are bigger, they are up to 35 cm long) may lead to intestinal obstruction. Pneumonia occurs as a result of the development of hypersensitivity reactions. In certain cases the infection may be asymptomatic.
The MIFC method helps trace eggs in the stool, rather than adult pathogens. Larvae can be obtained from cough samples and gastric lavage.
Albendazole or mebendazole (as with pinworm treatment) are used in the event of a clinical picture of intestinal disease. There is no medication for treating the clinical picture of pulmonary disease.
Home Remedies for Roundworms
Aside from the standard methods of treatment, there are natural ingredients that can help treat this condition. Try to incorporate these ingredients into your everyday diet; not only is it useful in disposal of roundworms, but it is also beneficial to the immune system and overall health.
All of these ingredients have a positive effect on your digestive system and create a microenvironment unfavorable for roundworms. They may also help in the formation of stool and removal of roundworms from your digestive tract.
- Avoid foods high in carbohydrates and opt for foods high in fiber – corn, whole wheat bread and pasta, raspberries, sweet potato, broccoli, spinach. In this way you will make your digestive system healthier, automatically helping it to fight parasites.
- Some experts and nutritionists suggest garlic as a natural means of fighting parasites. Garlic can be added to various meals or you can crunch it and apply it as a cream to the anal area.
- Carrot – it is best raw and grinded. It is also important that the carrot not be contaminated with pesticides and other harmful substances.
- Pelinkovac (bitter liqueur) – it is enough to take a few drops mixed with water or tea on an empty stomach.
- Young willow bark – contains salicylic acid (as does aspirin), which helps in the fight against parasites.
- Apple cider vinegar – if mixed with water, it can help combat roundworms due to its acidity.