Doctor. Heinz Lehmann in the next guest post.
Just the feeling of unwanted and admittedly rather disgusting neighbors inside your body must be terrifying enough. In addition, you may be tormented by remorse due to poor hygiene. But this is not necessary, because worm infestation usually has nothing to do with it. Because the higher the level of public hygiene, the more difficult it is for him to get infected. Therefore, only a few types of worms are widespread in Germany, which usually do not cause serious late effects in case of infection.
The most well-known types of worms are asymptomatic for a long time and, when detected, are easily treated with medication. Kindergarten and elementary school-aged children who bring small parasites to the family business at home are most often sick. But what kind of worms are we really talking about? Below we present the most common species in the area:
Pinworms (Enterobius vermicularis, Oxyuris vermicularis)
It is a parasitic nematode that is found in the intestines of the whole world, especially in temperate climates, and most often in children. Ingestion usually occurs fecal-oral, that is, through faecal-contaminated objects or food, or through faecal residues on body surfaces, such as hands, through which worm eggs are transmitted to others.
Because the eggs are quite small, they can also be inhaled accidentally, such as when clothes or bedding are shaken out. From the egg selected in this way, the first larvae hatch after about six hours. They make their way to the small intestine and attach to the wall there. After about two to three weeks, the worms fully grow, become sexually mature and have an elongated white shape.
Males are about three millimeters long, while females can reach an impressive 13 millimeters. After mating, the female hatches from the rectum, especially at night, and lays eggs in the anal folds. This leads to unpleasant itching in the indicated place. If these eggs are dropped or scraped off, they can survive in the air for up to three weeks. Affected children are often identified by complaints of nocturnal anal itching or by the detection of worms in the feces or around the anus.
Pinworm infestations are not as dangerous as other types of worms because they do not enter the bloodstream or attach to other organs, such as the intestines.
Roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides)
This type of worms is especially common in countries with low hygiene standards. The immature eggs are first passed in the stool of the affected host and then have to mature in the soil for some time before infecting the next host. May is usually caused by soil-contaminated foods such as lettuce, fruit, or raw vegetables.
The mature eggs can then reach the small intestine where they mature. Then they break through the intestinal wall and enter the blood, from where they can be transported to the lungs. Once there, they are coughed up and usually swallowed again. As a result, they develop in the intestines into sexually mature worms, the eggs of which are excreted through the intestines in order to detect them in this way. Due to the underground ripening process, direct transmission from person to person is impossible.
Serious infestations can sometimes lead to severe symptoms: severe coughing, crampy abdominal pain, intestinal blockage, allergic skin and respiratory reactions, all of which can be a serious consequence of an infestation.
These include various species such as fish tapeworm (Diphyllobothrium datum), dog tapeworm (Echinococcus granulosus), fox tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis), beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata) and pig tapeworm (Taenia sollum). These flatworms enter the body when eating contaminated food, such as meat or fish, wild berries or mushrooms, or vegetables or fruits that grow on the ground. Pets that run with wild or molluscs can also take the eggs home with them in their fur.
In the intestine, the eggs mature into sexually mature worms, which breed among themselves and lay eggs again. They are secreted and first reach the intestine of the intermediate host through repeated consumption. Larvae appear there, which penetrate through the intestinal wall to spread throughout the body through the bloodstream. Once in certain organs, they continue to develop in small fluid-filled sacs – fins. Eating the flesh of the intermediate host, contaminated with fins, sexually mature worms develop again in the final host.
Symptoms of infection may be similar to symptoms of roundworm infection. In case of infection with dog or fox tapeworm, a severe course may also occur. The former can settle in the lungs and cause discomfort there, while the latter attacks the liver and over time can cause serious damage to its tissue. In rare cases, the mentioned types of tapeworms can lead to the so-called echinococcosis. In rare cases, fin infection can also affect the kidneys, brain, or bones and cause severe tissue damage through tumor-like growth. These fins are often not adequately treated with medication and must be surgically removed.
To avoid infection, you must follow the following rules:
- You should avoid eating raw meat and fish, as well as vegetables and fruits fertilized with feces.
- Always wash berries and wild mushrooms as thoroughly as possible with warm water before use.
- Children, in particular, should wash their hands after using the toilet and after playing outside.
- Pets should also not be fed raw meat, and fur and feces should be regularly checked by a veterinarian for worm infestation if in doubt.
In all cases, one- and several-day treatment of worms in the form of tablets is used for therapy. In some cases it needs to be repeated to be safe, but it is usually more than effective and usually well tolerated. In other words, if you use these remedies, you can get rid of worms and anxiety in just a few steps.
see your family doctor
If you or a family member has any of the following symptoms or signs, it is best to contact your family doctor and get information about the necessary procedure. Everything is eaten not as hot as it should have been cleaned and in no time they have eliminated the little roommates for good!
We hope you don’t have a “worm” literally or figuratively, and we wish you a great start to summer!
guest post by medical doctor Heinz Lehmann