Last updated date: 21-Feb-2023
Originally Written in English
Ascariasis | Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment
Ascariasis is an infection caused by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. It is transferred through contaminated soil, food, or water and affects the small intestine. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and coughing. In severe cases, the worm can cause blockages in the intestine, leading to serious health problems. Ascariasis can be treated with medications that kill the worm. Prevention measures include practicing good hygiene and sanitation, as well as controlling the population of Ascaris lumbricoides in the environment.
What is Ascariasis?
Ascariasis is a type of parasitic infection caused by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. It is most commonly found in areas with poor sanitation and affects the small intestine, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and malnutrition. It can be treated with medication.
Ascariasis is a type of roundworm infection caused by the parasite Ascaris lumbricoides, which can live in the human gut and lead to malnutrition, abdominal pain, and other symptoms. It is most common in areas with poor sanitation and is usually treated with medications.
How common is Ascariasis?
Ascariasis is one of the most common parasitic infections in the world, affecting an estimated 1.2 billion people, particularly in developing countries with poor sanitation conditions. It is most common in areas with warm and moist climates, where the soil and environment are favorable for the survival and growth of Ascaris lumbricoides. Children are at higher risk of infection, as they are more likely to play in contaminated soil and have less developed hygiene practices. People who live in crowded or impoverished conditions and those with limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities are also at increased risk of ascariasis.
What is a Parasite?
Ascariasis is a parasitic infection caused by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. It is a soil-transmitted helminth (STH) that affects millions of people worldwide, especially in developing countries with poor sanitation practices.
Here's a brief overview of the biology of ascariasis:
- Transmission: The infection is transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated soil or food, or by direct contact with contaminated hands. The roundworms then mature and reproduce in the small intestine.
- Life cycle: The adult roundworms lay eggs in the small intestine, which are then passed out of the body in the feces. The eggs hatch into larvae in the soil, and the larvae can infect new hosts when they are ingested.
- Migration: The larvae migrate through the body and eventually reach the lungs, where they can cause coughing and wheezing. From the lungs, the larvae move to the throat, where they are swallowed and reach the small intestine, where they mature into adult worms.
- Symptoms: Ascariasis can cause a range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and malnutrition. In severe cases, the roundworms can cause intestinal blockages, leading to abdominal swelling, pain, and anemia.
The biology of ascariasis highlights the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the infection. Treatment of ascariasis typically involves the use of anti-parasitic medications to kill the adult worms and remove them from the body.
What causes an Ascariasis infection?
Ascariasis is caused by ingesting eggs of the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides, which can be found in contaminated soil or food. The eggs hatch into larvae in the small intestine and then travel to the lungs, where they mature and migrate back to the small intestine to mature into adult worms and lay eggs, which are then passed out of the body in the feces and can contaminate the soil.
The infection is acquired by ingesting contaminated soil or food that contains Ascaris eggs. The eggs hatch in the small intestine, and the larvae travel to the lungs, where they mature and eventually return to the small intestine to mate and lay eggs. This cycle continues, leading to a buildup of adult worms in the intestines.
What are the symptoms of Ascariasis?
The symptoms of ascariasis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Intestinal blockage
- Weight loss
Note: Mild infections may have no symptoms. Severe infections can lead to serious health complications.
Roundworms in your lungs can cause:
Roundworms in the lungs can cause a condition called pneumonitis, which is an inflammation of the lungs. This can lead to symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fever. In severe cases, it can also cause lung damage and impair respiratory function. Roundworm infection in the lungs is most commonly seen in people who live in or have traveled to areas with poor sanitation, where exposure to contaminated soil or water is more likely.
Roundworms in your intestines can cause:
intestinal discomfort, malnutrition and other health problems. Roundworms, also known as nematodes, can be transmitted through contaminated food or water, or through direct contact with contaminated soil. In the intestines, they can compete with the host for nutrients, causing malnutrition and other digestive symptoms. In severe cases, roundworms can also cause blockages in the intestines and damage to internal organs. Treatment for roundworm infections typically involves the use of antiparasitic medications.
Ascaris Lumbricoides life cycle
The lifecycle of the roundworm involves several stages including:
- Egg: Roundworm eggs are laid by adult females and can remain in soil for long periods.
- Larva: When conditions are favorable, the egg hatches into a larvae, which feeds on organic matter in the soil.
- Pupa: The larvae transforms into a pupa, a stage in which it undergoes significant changes and growth.
- Adult: The pupa emerges as an adult worm, capable of reproducing and laying eggs to start the cycle again.
Note: The specifics of the roundworm's lifecycle can vary depending on the species, and some species may also have additional developmental stages.
Who is at risk for Ascariasis?
Ascariasis is a parasitic infection that affects people of all ages, especially in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices. Children, who play in soil contaminated with human feces, are at highest risk. People who consume contaminated food and water can also be infected.
Ascariasis affects people of all ages, but those living in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices are most at risk. Children and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable.
Environmental risk factors for ascariasis include:
- Poor sanitation and hygiene practices
- Contaminated soil and water
- Lack of access to clean drinking water
- Overcrowding in communities with limited sanitation facilities
- Unsanitary disposal of human and animal waste
- Use of human feces as fertilizer in agriculture.
What are the complications of Ascariasis?
Ascariasis is a type of roundworm infection caused by the parasite Ascaris lumbricoides.
The complications of ascariasis can include:
- Intestinal Obstruction: Large numbers of adult roundworms can cause blockage in the intestine, leading to abdominal pain and vomiting.
- Malnutrition: The worms can consume a significant amount of the host's food, leading to malnutrition and weight loss.
- Anemia: The worms can cause blood loss, leading to anemia.
- Appendicitis: The worms can cause inflammation of the appendix, leading to appendicitis.
- Peritonitis: In severe cases, the worms can migrate to other parts of the body, such as the peritoneal cavity, causing peritonitis, a potentially life-threatening condition.
- Pneumonitis: Ascaris worms can also migrate to the lungs, causing pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs that can lead to cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
It is important to seek medical treatment if you suspect an ascariasis infection, as complications can be serious and even life-threatening.
How is Ascariasis diagnosed?
Ascariasis is diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms, medical history, and laboratory tests.
The following methods can be used to diagnose ascariasis:
- Stool examination: A sample of the patient's stool is examined under a microscope for the presence of roundworm eggs.
- Blood tests: Blood tests can be performed to check for anemia or inflammation, which can indicate an ascariasis infection.
- Imaging studies: In some cases, X-rays or other imaging studies, such as CT scans or ultrasound, may be used to visualize the worms in the intestine or lungs.
- Endoscopy: An endoscopy, which is a procedure that uses a flexible tube with a camera to examine the inside of the intestine, may be performed to directly visualize the worms.
A definitive diagnosis of ascariasis requires the identification of the roundworm eggs or adult worms. A healthcare professional should be consulted for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
How is Ascariasis treated?
Ascariasis is treated with medications that kill the worm. The most commonly used medications are albendazole and mebendazole, which are anti-parasitic drugs that work by inhibiting the ability of the worm to absorb glucose, leading to its death. These drugs are usually taken orally, and a single dose is usually sufficient to eliminate the infection.
In severe cases, when the worm has caused a blockage in the intestine, surgery may be necessary to remove the worm. In addition to medication, it is important to practice good hygiene and sanitation, as well as control the population of Ascaris lumbricoides in the environment, to prevent reinfection and further spread of the disease.
It is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Preparing for your appointment
If you have symptoms or suspect that you have ascariasis,
here are some steps you can take to prepare for your appointment:
- Write down your symptoms: Make a list of all the symptoms you are experiencing, including any discomfort or pain in your abdomen, changes in your bowel movements, or any other related symptoms.
- Gather information about your medical history: Make a note of any previous illnesses, surgeries, or medical conditions that you have had.
- List your medications: Write down any prescription and over-the-counter medications, supplements, and vitamins that you are currently taking.
- Consider your diet and lifestyle: Think about any changes in your diet or lifestyle that may be contributing to your symptoms.
- Write down questions for your doctor: Prepare a list of questions that you would like to ask your doctor, such as the best course of treatment, the expected outcome, and any possible side effects of the medications prescribed.
By doing these steps, you can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and provide the best possible treatment plan for your ascariasis.
Prevention and control of Ascariasis
Prevention and control of ascariasis primarily involve measures to reduce exposure to contaminated soil, food, and water, as well as improving hygiene and sanitation practices.
Some of the key measures for preventing and controlling ascariasis include:
Providing access to clean toilets, hand washing facilities, and safe disposal of human waste can reduce the contamination of soil and water with Ascaris eggs.
Improved hygiene practices:
Regular hand washing with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before handling food, can help prevent the spread of the infection.
Proper food handling:
Cooking food thoroughly and washing fruits and vegetables before consumption can reduce the risk of ingesting contaminated food.
Controlling the population of Ascaris lumbricoides in the environment, such as through the use of appropriate insecticides, can help reduce transmission.
Raising awareness about the causes, symptoms, and prevention of ascariasis through health education campaigns can help reduce the incidence of the infection.
Access to clean water:
Providing access to clean water and improving water treatment and supply systems can reduce the contamination of water with Ascaris eggs.
Mass deworming programs:
In areas with a high incidence of ascariasis, mass deworming programs, which provide a single dose of medication to entire populations, can be effective in reducing the transmission and impact of the infection.
What is the long-term outlook for an Ascariasis infection?
The long-term outlook for ascariasis, which is a type of roundworm infection, can vary depending on the severity and duration of the infection. Generally, people who are infected with a small number of roundworms may experience only mild symptoms, which can resolve on their own within a few weeks. However, in severe cases, where a large number of roundworms are present, the infection can lead to serious complications, such as intestinal blockages, malnutrition, and anemia. In such cases, treatment with anti-parasitic medications is typically necessary to remove the roundworms and prevent long-term damage to the affected person's health. If treated promptly and effectively, the prognosis for a person with ascariasis is generally good, and there is a low risk of long-term complications.
Ascariasis is a parasitic infection caused by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. It is common in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene and is spread by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Symptoms of ascariasis include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and malnutrition. The infection can also lead to complications such as intestinal blockage, which can be life-threatening. Treatment for ascariasis involves taking medication to eliminate the parasites, as well as improving hygiene and sanitation to prevent re-infection.