Worms and Intestinal Parasites: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Worms and Intestinal Parasites: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment. Intestinal parasites, commonly called intestinal worms or parasitic worms, are unicellular or multicellular organisms that infect the gastro-intestinal tract of both humans and other animals and live off their host. Infection with parasitic worms occurs much more frequently than one might believe. While children are often more likely to get parasitic worms, adults that do not keep a rigorous hygiene can also be at risk. If left untreated, intestinal parasites infections can prove life-threatening.

Contaminated food or water, coming into contact with bowel movements and ingesting it as a result of poor hygiene can get one infected with a variety of parasitic worms, ranging from ascaris, giardia, the trichina worm to tapeworms, the hookworm and so on. While an intestinal parasite infection presents symptoms and can be diagnosed through simple tests, many people who are infected are often oblivious to the infection and let it go undiagnosed until the parasite starts causing more serious health problems.

Intestinal worms

The key to understanding parasitic infections of the gastro-intestinal tract and the reason why they have such a harmful impact on one’s health lies in understanding what intestinal parasites are and what is their mechanism of infection. A parasite is an organism that lives in and feeds off another organism. Intestinal parasites, often referred to as intestinal worms or parasitic worms, are single-cell or multi-cell organisms that can potentially infect humans. They may be as little as a few millimeters or as big as a few meters, depending on their type.

Intestinal parasites go through three main phases of evolution: egg, larvae and adult. Again, depending on their type, they may reside in various animals (fish, rats, pigs, cows, humans, birds) and various parts of the body (intestines, lungs, liver, brain, eyes or lymphatic system).

Where can you find intestinal parasites? Intestinal parasites can live on fruits and vegetables, especially on crops fertilized naturally with animal manure coming from cows, pigs, sheep and so on. They can be found in the soil, almost everywhere, usually in the first 15 cm from the ground. They can be found in rivers, lakes and puddles. And because they can infect almost every living organism from mosquitoes, ants, wasps, fish, birds, pigs, cows, dogs, cats to humans, intestinal parasites are abundant in the bowel movements of all infected hosts and transmitted further from there.

While there are intestinal parasites that prefer certain hosts, most can thrive off any living organism. Here are the most common 5 types of intestinal parasites that can infect humans:

1) Roundworms, half of which are parasitic. The most common type of roundworm infection is attributed to Ascaris lumbricoides, an intestinal parasite that causes ascariasis. This type of roundworm infects over 20% of the world’s population and cases occur just as frequently in developed countries with proper sanitation as they occur in developing ones. Children are a high risk category for Ascaris infection because they are more likely to play with pets or stray animals that haven’t been dewormed and thus may come into contact with parasite eggs from their bowel movements.

Ascaris eggs can remain dormant for years and become ‘active’ following ingestion. Ascaris parasites are highly dangerous because once the ingested eggs hatch, the larvae migrate from the intestines to the heart, lungs, liver and even eyes (or get lost in other organs) to then return to the intestines as adults ready to reproduce. If left untreated, ascariasis can lead to death (it is estimated that about 20,000 children die annually as a result of  severe Ascaris infection).

Signs and symptoms of an infection often include eliminating worms or eggs through stools, but more severe cases may include shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea, bloody stools, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting worms. Fortunately, the infection can be detected easily through stool examination and treated successfully with mebendazole, taken orally.

2) Pinworms. The pinworm, also called threadworm or seatworm is another common intestinal parasite and a type of roundworm. Out of three major pinworm species, Enterobius vermicularis is the only one to potentially infect humans and cause what is known as enterobiasis. This type of pinworm completes its life cycle in 8-13 weeks and colonizes the gastro-intestinal tract. A telling sign of pinworm infestation is itching in the perineal area.

If the area is scratched, the eggs of this parasite get attached to fingernails, hands, underwear or bed linen, from where they can easily be transferred to the mouth and ingested. Pinworm infections have extremely high rates of (re)infection, which makes it common for most household member to become carriers of the parasite at one point. Following treatment, strict personal hygiene and household hygiene are imperative.

3) Flatworms. The most problematic types of flatworms for humans (and livestock) are tapeworms and flukes. Tapeworms are the ones that reach monstruous lengths of almost 17 meters. Usually, people become infected with tapeworm larvae after consuming poorly cooked food. The larvea thrives within the intestines by anchoring itself to intestinal walls with hooks and some specimens may live up to 20 years.

A mature female tapeworm can lay millions of eggs every day which are then excreted, increasing reinfestation risks. Infestation is dangerous because tapeworm larvae may migrate to the lungs or liver where they form cysts. Pork, beef, fish, dog and sheep tapeworms are the most common potential causes of tapeworm infestation.

While tapeworm infections may be asymptomatic, sometimes, the following signs and symptoms may appear: continuous hunger, weakness, tiredness due to nutrient deficiencies caused by the parasite feeding off its host, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, indigestion, even weight loss or failure to gain weight despite eating well. Taenia solium (the pork tapeworm), Taenia saginata (the beef tapeworm) and Taenis asiatica (the Asian tapeworm) are known to cause the disease known as taeniasis. In the final stages of taeniasis, the parasites reach the brain and may cause severe neurological problems.

4) Whipworms. Trichuris trichiura is a 30-50 millimeter roundworm known as the whipworm. It causes the disease known as trichuriasis, also called whipworm infection. The name of the parasite has to do with its appearance, reminiscent of a whip. Whipworm infection is estimated to affect about 10% of the world’s population annually as a result of oral contact with soil contaminated with whipworm eggs. While the infection may not show symptoms at all in many individuals, when the worm population in the intestines begins to rise, fatigue, abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea may appear.

Trichuriasis is more likely to occur in tropical and subtropical areas of developing countries, where sanitation is practically inexistent. The infection occurs when people do not wash their fruits and vegetables properly, do not cook their food well or forget to wash their hands, especially after having contact with infected soil, animal or human bowel movements, both of which are often used as fertilizer.

5) HookwormsAncylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus are the main parasites causing hookworm infestation, known either as ancylostomiasis, or as necatoriasis. Hookworm infection occurs as a result of poor hygiene and infection rates are visibly higher in rural areas, tropical and subtropical regions, children, adults working in unsanitary conditions and so on. This type of parasite has a lifespan of around 5 years and inhabits the small intestine from where it feeds off blood. As a result, the most telling sign of infestation is anemia, closely followed by iron deficiency.

Unlike other intestinal parasites, hookworms usually infect people by penetrating their skin. For example, if you walk barefoot or handle infected soil, the larvae (and only them) transfer themselves to your skin, penetrate it to reach your circulatory system and then lungs. Their aim is to get to the trachea from where they are swallowed and end up in the intestines where they mature. A single female can lay up to 30,000 eggs in a day and larvae may remain dormant in tissues and become activated when other adult worms die.

Intestinal parasites

Some of these parasites fall into the category of protozoa (single-cell organisms), while the others into the category of helminths (multicellular organisms). An infection with the parasites known as helminths is called helminthiasis. It is estimated there are about 1 million species of parasites that may infect humans, as well as other animals. Most parasitic worms are thin, either round or flat and have a whitish-yellowish, sometimes transparent color.

While intestinal parasites feed off the nutrients we take from the food we eat, causing visible weight loss and growing hunger, others prefer blood, triggering anemia and iron deficiencies. When parasites grow in numbers, they become less discrete and telling symptoms such as rashes, itching in the groin area or eliminating live worms in stools may occur.

Depending on the type of parasite inhabiting one’s intestines, the degree of infection and the incubation period, intestinal parasite infestations may be more or less hard to detect. Usually, a doctor will examine one or more stool samples under the microscope to identify the parasites. It is also common for a doctor to place some duct tape around the anal region, then remove it to check it under the microscope for eggs. Ultrasounds are rarely used, but aim to locate parasites in the lymphatic system, while colonoscopies are only performed when your doctor suspects you have an intestinal parasite, but cannot find proof in stools (often because you may have only a few adults causing your health problems).

How to tell if you have intestinal parasites? Here are the most telling 8 signs and symptoms you have an intestinal parasite:
1) Abdominal pain or tenderness.
2) Itching and rashes in the groin area.
3) Passing worms in stools.
4) Tiredness, fatigue.
5) Visible weight loss.
6) Increased appetite.
7) Gas, bloating, nausea and vomiting.
8) Diarrhea, often with blood.

Less common signs and symptoms associated with a severe intestinal parasite infestation include:
1) Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
2) Difficulty falling asleep.
3) Screeching teeth during sleep.
4) Unexplained skin rashes, hives, rosacea or eczema.
5) Muscle or joint pain.
6) Frequent feelings of apathy, depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety.
7) Constant feeling of hunger.
8) Hypoglycemia.
9) B vitamins deficiency.
10) Excessive mucus in stools, often accompanied by visible (or invisible) traces of blood.
11) Cough.
12) Jaundice.
13) Night sweats or chills.
14) Colitis.

Some of these symptoms are caused by parasites releasing toxins or their bowel movements into the host’s bloodstream and are the result of a severe infestation. For this reason, they rarely occur in individuals in developed countries, but are more common in poor, developing countries lacking sanitation and good hygiene education.

What causes an intestinal parasite infection?
1) Contaminated water.
2) Contaminated and unwashed fruits and vegetables.
3) Raw or uncooked contaminated meat.
4) Walking barefoot or handling contaminated soil.
5) Working with natural fertilizers such as human and animal manure.
6) Lack of good personal hygiene (hand washing) and sanitation (lack of toilets).

Once a person acquires an intestinal parasite and remains untreated, it is only a matter of time until he or she infects other members of the household, coworkers and so on. Seeing that transmission can occur fairly easily, prevention remains crucial in reducing both infection and reinfection rates. Here is how to prevent intestinal parasites:

1) Practice good hygiene. The most important thing you can do to prevent a great number of diseases, including intestinal parasites infections is to wash your hands thoroughly before you eat as well as before and after you use the toilet. Changing your bed linen and underwear regurlarly and washing them at high temperatures can help destroy excreted eggs and prevent infection of other people as well as reinfestation.

2) Drink clean water. Whether you have a certified clean water source, drink bottled water (which is best), filter or even boil and cool you drinking water, it is important to keep to your practice to avoid consuming contaminated water.

3) Wash your food and cook it well. Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating them and avoid consuming undercooked meat such as pork, beef or fish. Also, you may want to avoid foods fertilized with untreated human and animal manure.

4) Disinfect your shoes and house regularly. If you went for a walk in the park, leave your shoes at the door and change into a clean pair you use only inside the house. Disinfect your outsoles with diluted chlorine and do the same with the floors once in a while.

5) Avoid playing with unwormed animals. Stray cats and dogs and even household pets that have not been dewormed are very likely to carry one or more intestinal parasites that can infect humans. Being an adult, you will most likely wash your hands well after petting an unwormed animal, but children might put their hands into their mouth soon after touching the fur or tail of a stray animal, which might lead to the transmission of a potentially dangerous parasite.

How to treat intestinal parasites?
1) Medication used to treat intestinal parasites is called antihelmintic medication. It includes Benzimidazoles (mebendazole, albendazole, fenbendazole), Ivermectin, Praziquantel and so on. The most effective is mebendazole therapy, often prescribed in one dose or smaller doses taken over a period of three days, twice a day, with a last dose recommended 10-14 days after the completion of the first treatment (to kill remaining eggs).

What is interesting is that mebendazole has shown promising results in cancer treatment as well, with testimonies showing that it can induce partial and total remission in terminal cancer patients. It was shown to help reduce tumor size and prevent further cancer spread.

2) Surgery. This is a last resort and is recommended only in cases of extremely severe intestinal parasites infestation, when worms clump together in the abdomen, for example, expanding it visibly and putting great strain on the host’s body. Such cases are only seen in individuals living in extreme poverty, lacking hygiene possibilities. If the condition is left untreated and ends up in worms clumping together in various parts of the body (intestines, lymphatic system), medication is no longer effective and surgery becomes imperative.

Food for thought. While it may not seem as much of an issue, remember that intestinal parasites are extremely dangerous and can lead to long-term health problems. For example, Toxocara canis, an ascarid found in unwormed pet dogs, which can infect humans as well, can damage the heart muscle, the liver, the retina, cause seizures and coma. Another parasite appears to increase bladder cancer risks in adults, while many cause retarded physical and cognitive development in children. Basic hygiene rules and prevention can mean the world.

32 Replies to “Worms and Intestinal Parasites: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment”

  1. This article is informative to me as I suspect I have one of these parasites. I want to known which foods especially vegetables destroy these parasites in the body.

    • Hello, Sandile. My honest opinion is that if you suspect you have an intestinal parasite, you should go see a doctor and get a prescription for antiparasitic medication. Antiparasitics are by far the most efficient for dealing with worms and intestinal parasites. While certain foods such as ginger, garlic, onions, oregano, cardamom, cloves, black walnuts may have a protective action, their effect is very likely not strong enough to cure an existing parasite infection. At most, they have a mild protective action and may be consumed to prevent a potential infestation. But, honestly, it really depends on the type of parasite, the source of the infection, the magnitude of the infection, your tolerance of these foods (many foods for intestinal parasites such as ginger may upset hemorrhoids, garlic and onions may worsen acid reflux, gastritis and so on). In any case, the surest way to get rid of parasites is with a prescription from you doctor. Wishing you lots of health.

  2. Been dealing with pinworms and have taken mebendazole as directed, almost 3 months, haven’t come back. There are several cases at elementary school. Using food grade diatomaceous earth to prevent intestinal parasites, also probiotics, coconut oil and eating garlic. Due to pricing in US, could not afford enverm for my husband and myself, only my child. Found mebendazole at the market in Spain for mom and dad. Counting on the DE to keep them away. Saw 1 worm on child January 10, none since.

    • Hello, Lee. If you are taking the medication prescribed to you (mebendazole), then you should get rid of intestinal parasites for good. But you do have to prevent reinfestation. If there are still children with intestinal parasites at your child’s school, then you and your family have to keep to strict hygiene rules to prevent getting the worms again. For example, it is extremely important to wash your hands throughout the day, before eating especially, avoid touching your mouth if you haven’t washed you hands first, keep nails short (intestinal parasites eggs can get under the nails and from there we may end up ingesting them) and wash undergarments and towels at 90 degrees Celsius if possible (in case there are eggs on them). If you suspect a reinfestation, go to the doctor. Wishing you lots of health.

  3. My 8 yr old daughter has been vomiting spasmodically (strangely weekends only, and usually 4 or 5 am) for over 6 months. Some months it’s every weekend, others sometimes can be weeks without vomiting. She has recently had a stool test, blood tests, allergy tests, ultrasounds completed with the only answer being she had cryptosporidium. Could it be that this parasite has infected her gut so badly that it remains there? She’s vomited again today and has been in pain for 24 hrs. We are under the care of a pediatric gastroenterologist who is suggesting we wait for second stool test results and if she still has cryptosporidium an important conversation must be had. What could this important conversation be?

    • Hi, Rochelle. I can only assume that the doctor is concerned with making your daughter healthy again and is making serious efforts to find the right treatment for her. From my experience and knowledge, worms and intestinal parasites in general can be very difficult to get rid of, especially in children who often overlook the importance of strict hygiene and generally have more opportunities to be exposed to intestinal parasites. Cryptosporidium is one of those parasites that are extremely difficult to treat, but incredibly easy to get. They can infect drinking water, untreated sources of water (wells, lakes), swimming pools (chlorine is not always efficient against them) etc. and are prevalent among children and people with a compromised or weakened immune system. What’s worse is that the parasitic infection can return if the parasite is still present around us.

      Managing and treating cryptosporidium infestations and all intestinal parasites infections focuses on taking the right antiparasitic medication and preventing a recurrence of the parasite. The medication will be recommended by your doctor and needs to be taken accordingly. As for strict hygiene, it is recommended to:
      1) Wash hands throroughly multiple times a day, especially before eating and after going to the toilet.
      2) Use a liquid soap (it’s more hygienic).
      3) Boil drinking water is you suspect water sources are contaminated.
      4) Wash fruits and vegetables you may eat raw with clean, uncontaminated water.
      5) Take profilactic treatment. If a member of the family has an intestinal worm, everyone can get it too.
      In the case of small children, day cares and other similar venues can be a source of recurrent infection.
      6) Avoid swimming pools until the infection is cleared (we can transmit the parasite to others too for several weeks after getting rid of it, through the eggs we continue to eliminate).
      7) Pets can, in some cases, transmit a form of this parasite too, so take your cat or dog to the vet for tests.
      8) Wash undergarments, towels and changing pads at 90 degrees Celsius to eliminate potential parasites and their eggs.
      9) Keep nails short.
      10) Avoid touching your mouth or face with your hand.
      11) Disinfect floors, table and other surfaces.

      Experts also recommend to manage the symptoms: diarrhea and vomiting causing dehydration. Whether you are and adult or a child, dehydration can be dangerous. It is recommended to stay hydrated by drinking water, herbal teas or, even better, electrolyte solutions or sports drinks with electrolytes etc. It is important to also eat well and take multivitamins to keep the body strong to fight infection. Zinc, vitamin C for the immune system, B vitamins for energy and appetite and so on. When I had nausea and would feel like vomiting if I ate, I would make myself a bowl of plain, boiled white rice and maybe grated a fresh apple on top. That was the only thing I could eat without vomiting. Wishing you lots of health and hope to hear good news.

  4. Hey, what might be the causes of the absence of fish parasites on the skin, intestines and gills of the fish? Thank you.

  5. Suffering from shortness of breath, saliva from mouth on bed which is unusual for me and itching in the sensitive area, extreme fatigue. Please help me identify type of parasite. I bought benzimidazole and was told to take 200mg pills a day for 3 days and another after 14 days.

    • Hi, Bob. If you haven’t yet, see a doctor. And take the medication you have been prescribed as recommended. The first cycle is to eliminate mature intestinal worms or parasites and, after 14 days, their eggs. So follow your health care provider’s recommendations. Also, it is important to maintain a strict hygiene by washing hands before and after eating, keeping nails short and clean, washing underclothes with hot water (90 degrees Celsius), washing fruits and vegetables well, cooking meat thoroughly etc. If symptoms persists after completing the treatment, have some tests to see if you still have intestinal parasites or if you are sufferring from another condition altogether. Wishing you lots of health.

    • Yes, it is possible. But an intestinal worms infestation doesn’t show symptoms right away. At this point it can be intestinal worms, something you ate that didn’t agree with you, stress or several other possible causes. If the symptoms persist, make sure you make an appointment with your doctor. Hope this helps.

  6. I’m making an appt tomorrow, but I’ve been having very short breath and sometimes the feeling of a lot of caffeine but I don’t consume caffeine since I’m very sensitive to it. Also my stomach has been hurting and I get really hungry but once I start to eat, I lose appetite and feel nausea. I guess I just want to know if worms could be the cause and what the severe symptoms are. Given I take care of myself very well and am always on edge about what I consume, I wouldn’t think anything could have caused them. But I am worried.

    • Hello, Ameila. Intestinal worms can give some very strange symptoms, for example, you are always hungry and eat a lot, but lose weight or feel low on energy. Truthfully, you never know if you have intestinal parasites because they are so easy to get even with great hygiene. So see a doctor and have a test called a coproculture which can tell you if you have intestinal worms or not. Even if you do, it’s easy to get rid of them with medication. But considering the symptoms you describe, your problem might very well be stomach-related. Gastritis can make you really hungry or make your stomach hurt. Hunger is also an ulcer symptom, along with pain (the ulcer hunger pangs). Peptic ulcers can cause one to lose appetite and feel nauseous as well as throw up. And the feeling you get, the shortness of breath and the caffeine-like rush you experience can be caused by the stomach juices going up into the esophagus (acid reflux). I’ve experienced the same two symptoms when I had gastritis. So you could also tell your doctor about these symptoms, describe your diet and lifestyle and ask to know if you might have gastritis or a stomach ulcer. These are usually diagnosed via ultrasound (or ecography), an endoscopy (or gastroscopy) or other tests and exams. Hope this helps.

  7. I always have this indigestion. Any time I eat food it will not go down because I will be feeling it around my neck. What could cause that pls?

    • Hello, Emmanuel. It is possible that what you are experiencing is a globus sensation (when you feel like you have a lump in the throat). This can be a result of stress, anxiety, acid reflux disease, eating foods that are too dry or hard, taking large bites of food, maybe an injury from food. In any case, you should see a doctor. Tell the doctor if you experience other symptoms like pain or if the food actually gets stuck and when this sensation started. This is important information that will help with the diagnosis. Wishing you lots of health.

  8. Hello, it’s Monica. Of late, I have been having diarrhea for about two weeks and stopped after taking raw aloe vera juice mixed with warm water. However, I have an itching problem after passing out stool. This is really so uncomfortable. To make it worse, I also started having an abnormal bleeding or spotting. I was given Albendazole (single doze) thinking it could be the cause of my anemia. I have done several ultra scans to see if I have the fibroid and cervical cancer screening but all came out negative. I also had a hormonal balance test and my results were positive and I was given medication. My worry is that I do not know what could be causing the continuous bleeding. Is there any other possible cause that my docs haven’t seen? Help needed.

    • Hello, Monica. Abnormal uterine bleeding is often a result of hormonal imbalances that may or may not have other causes (that’s why you had tests to rule out fibroids and cervical cancer). Polyps, endometriosis, infection, pregnancy, antibiotics, thyroid disease like hypothyroidism and even stress are all potential causes. Most of the time, however, it’s hormonal imbalances and the recommended treatment is hormone medication. Sometimes, no treatment is recommended, more exactly when no dangerous underlying cause can be found following tests and symptoms are not bothersome. Your age is also a deciding factor in determining the choice of treatment. I understand how worrisome this must be for you. Not knowing can be the worst sometimes because it has you lacking control of the situation. For you peace of mind, you can have regular non-invasive tests to simply monitor things. Sometimes, it takes time for a treatment to produce the desired effects, so give your treatment time to work. I don’t know if you find this piece of information useful, but some experts recommend taking vitamin C supplements for 3 to 6 months to help treat hormonal imbalances. You can discuss this further with your doctor and see if it might be helpful for you. Stay strong and wishing you lots of health.

  9. I am an 18-year old unmarried girl. I have been suffering from constipation for 18 days. Also, I had lower right abdomen pain. I tested my stool where there were seen no ova, but cyst and parasites are seen. Actually, I want to know what’s going on there.

    • Hello, Jony. Based on what you are saying, it appears you have intestinal parasites. In this case, you need treatment from your doctor. Studies suggest mebendazole is the most efficient and well tolerated treatment for worms and intestinal parasites, with cure rates as high 100%. So make an appointment with your doctor and start your treatment. As for the constipation, you should also investigate this further with your doctor. The best treatment for constipation is usually eating sufficient dietary fiber from food sources such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits or whole grains and drinking plenty of liquids, especially water. Wishing you lots of health.

  10. I have been having this stool problem for days now. I took imodium, but it still didn’t stop. My belly makes a lot of sounds whenever I eat anything and I go to the toilet immediately after the sounds. Do you think this is some kind of parasite? And please, what causes hemorrhoids and what’s the solution to them?

    • It is important to go see a doctor. It is possible that a relentless diarrhea like this (if you are referring to diarrhea when you say you go to the bathroom continuously) has a bacterial or parasitic cause. In this case, it is an infectious diarrhea and the imodium won’t help. So go to the doctor as soon as possible. Also, tell the doctor what you ate in the days before the symptoms started. Were you on vacation somewhere and ate local food or maybe drank water that wasn’t bottled? Tell the doctor if you have other symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and anything you may have noticed about the condition. And yes, bacteria and protozoa, a type of parasite, can cause infectious diarrhea. For more information on what causes hemorrhoids and what to eat for hemorrhoids, please read the article here. Remember, go to the doctor as soon as possible. Also, to counteract the dehydration caused by too frequent trips to the bathroom, it is important to drink plenty of liquids like water or herbal teas and replenish lost minerals with the help of electrolyte solutions or supplements or sports drinks with vitamins and minerals. Wishing you lots of health.

  11. Hello, my granddaughter is 11 months old. And has had pinworms for 3 months. She has had Dr. Reese’s pinworm medicine, and it kills some but in two days they are back. I wonder if medicine will damage? I have given it to the siblings and myself. Any suggestions? This is getting old.

    • Hello, Denise. Because your granddaughter is still an infant, it is important you talk to a pediatrician about the best medication for her. Anthelmintic medicines are often not given to children younger than 2 years because of fear of side effects, so only a pediatrician can advise you in this respect.

      What you need to know is that intestinal parasites spread very easily to other members of the family and the surroundings through eggs, so an infection can persist in a household indefinitely unless you disinfect surfaces, objects and clothes. It is recommended to practice an excellent hygiene while the members of the family are following the first and second course of treatment for intestinal parasites and their eggs. Maintain the same level of hygiene some time afterwards. Bed sheets, pillow cases, towels, clothes you wear beneath outer clothes and pajamas should be washed every day at 90 degrees Celsius. Toilets and other surfaces in the house should be disinfected to destroy potential eggs. Washing your hands multiple times a day, especially before and after eating is crucial. Avoid putting your hands in your mouth and scratching if it feels itchy. Disinfects bottles, pacifiers and other similar objects. Again, talk to the pediatrician about the best treatment option for your granddaughter and the rest of the family in the likelihood the parasites were transmitted to the rest of you too. Wishing you lots of health.

  12. Hello. For about 2 years now my digestion has changed. Once I came home from vacation, the following evening I felt terrible. When I was about to fall asleep, my legs and arms jumped into the air, my stomach was bubbling, I spent the whole night on the toilet, lost 5 kg. This went on for a few weeks or so, I saw doctors, even a neurologist, because sometimes I felt numbness in my limbs. Nothing. An endocrinologist figured I have Hashimoto’s, prescribed me something for that, plus magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, selenium. I still take them, but my core problem is not resolved. At the very first time my intention was it was something in my stomach and bowels, but the gastroenterologist was not very thorough.
    Since then I have been having these symptoms: cannot gain weight, sometimes not hungry for a day, sometimes no matter how much I eat, I’m still hungry, tired most of the time, in the early days I had strange rashes on my skin, tremors on different parts of my body, my stool is almost always with mucus, very stinky (nothing like before, before it was just normal stool), when I’m about to fall asleep I have sudden and scary awakenings, no order in going to the toilet, joint and muscle pain. How likely do you think it is I have parasites?
    Thanks, B.

    • I am sorry to hear about your health problems, Brad. It’s incredibly frustrating to not have answers with all of these symptoms present. If you suspect you may have contracted a worm or intestinal parasite, take a stool test to see if there are any parasites or eggs. If the test comes clean, you can either repeat it and make sure the doctor checks for even more parasites, or ask the doctor to give you a prophylactic treatment, just in case the parasites may not appear, but are there. Also, talk to your doctor about recommending a broad-spectrum antihelminthic agent with a greater efficacy.

      Also, considering you are not pleased with your visit to the gastroenterologist, maybe you should make a second appointment for a more thorough examination. Write down all of your symptoms, especially those of a digestive nature: mucus in stools, bad smell, consistency of stools, frequency of bowel movements, if there is abdominal pain or blood in the stools etc. Ask the specialist to recommend tests that look at the possible causes of these digestive symptoms and tell him to go through the results with you so you can understand your diagnosis better. Digestive conditions that could result in symptoms similar to yours can have an autoimmune cause and it is possible both your digestive problems and hypothyroidism have resulted from an underlying immune system problem. Hashimoto’s disease is, after all, an autoimmune hypothyroidism. And muscle and joint pain often has an autoimmune cause as well. This would explain the wide range of symptoms and different organs and systems being affected (stomach, thyroid, metabolism, joints, muscles, sleep pattern). In any case, it is important to investigate all of your symptoms and find the best treatment options for you. Wishing you lots of health and hope to hear back from you with good news.

    • Hey Brad, I hope you find your treatment and healthy right now. But what you wrote is exactly what I experienced. And I also have same symptoms and Hashimoto’s too. But overall I had already seen the parasites in the stool before the symptoms appeared but during the time I tried different treatments but was not successful. After 3 years I decided to repeat the treatment with broad spectrum anti-helminthic and this time I was successful (I don’t know the percentage though). My major is Molecular Biology (I know and research a lot of things about them) and there is a huge evidence in the literature those parasites induce auto-immune disease in the body. If you can please contact a good doctor and consider this parasitic infection in your body. If you want to contact with me we can discuss further. Thank you.

    • Hello, Collette. Unfortunately, we do not have an image gallery for worms and intestinal parasites. But it wouldn’t help you much to look at pictures because there are so many different types of parasites and most are microscopic. Even some that are visible without a microscope are hard to distinguish clearly. Here are some signs and symptoms of worms and other intestinal parasites you can look for:

      1) The obvious, passing worms in the stool. The visible ones are tiny, often white or semi-transparent, but also brown, red-brown, string-like in shape. They can be as small as half a cm or several cm in length. Some parasites like the tapeworm can grow to 6 meters in length but people don’t usually eliminate them whole, but in pieces and after treatment.
      2) Itching, especially at night or early in the morning could be a symptom of intestinal worms.
      3) Holes in stools, as if something really tiny has passed through them.
      4) Constant bloating, distended stomach.
      5) Abdominal tenderness, pain.
      6) Weight loss, weakness, tiredness.
      7) Paleness.
      8) Nausea, vomiting.
      9) Loose stools or inexplicable diarrhea.
      10) Occasionally bad breath and stomach gas.

      But know that most of these symptoms apply to other medical conditions as well. If you suspect you have intestinal parasites, see your doctor and have a coproculture, a test in which they analyze a sample of stool under the microscope. You can also ask your doctor for a prophylactic treatment for intestinal parasites, but remember not all antihelminthic medications are equally effective. Hope this helps.

  13. Worms loosing in stools, black headed. Age 38 and weight 50 kg, hb 6.7. Is it possible the absence of iron or vitamins to cause worms again and again? I have taken mebendazole for 3 days. I just need a chance to live. Help me.

    • If you are dealing with a severe intestinal worms infection, please see your doctor. Your doctor will need to investigate what type of intestinal parasite you have and prescribe you the best medicine for it. Your doctor will prescribe a first round of treatment for the worms and a second round of treatment usually a week later for any remaining parasite eggs.
      And yes, it is possible for vitamin and mineral deficiencies to encourage intestinal worms infections because nutritional deficiencies cause low immunity and this could make it easier for certain intestinal parasites to infect the gastrointestinal tract. However, low iron, low vitamin B12 and other nutritional deficiencies could be a result of having intestinal parasites. So please see a doctor as soon as you can for adequate treatment. Wishing you lots of health and hope to hear back from you with good news.

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