Helminthiasis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Table of contents:

Helminthiasis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment
Helminthiasis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Video: Helminthiasis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Video: Helminthiasis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment
Video: Helminths: Cestodes and Trematodes (transmission, clinical importance, and treatment) 2023, December

Helminthiases are diseases caused by helminths, in other words, worms. Worms can enter the human body from the external environment or through contact with vectors of infection. Helminthiasis, the symptoms of which in adults are very extensive, significantly worsens the condition of the body. Infected people may experience pain in various parts of the body, a feeling of constant fatigue, disorders of the digestive system and sleep, as well as other unpleasant phenomena.

The content of the article:

  • 1 Helminths and helminthiases - general characteristics
  • 2 Ways of infection with helminths of an adult

    • 2.1 Infection with helminths through soil and water
    • 2.2 Infection with helminths when communicating with a sick person
    • 2.3 Worm infestation through unprocessed food
  • 3 Diagnosis of helminthiasis in adults
  • 4 Helminthiasis - the main phases in adults

    • 4.1 Acute stage of helminthiasis
    • 4.2 Chronic stage of helminthiasis
  • 5 Symptoms of helminths in adults

    • 5.1 Disorders of the gastrointestinal tract
    • 5.2 Allergic reactions and skin manifestations
    • 5.3 Nervous system disorders and general malaise
    • 5.4 Decreased immunity and, as a consequence, the development of infectious diseases
  • 6 Features of the course of helminthiasis during pregnancy
  • 7 Helminthiasis - prevention

Helminths and helminthiases - a general characteristic

Helminths are a large and diverse group of worms that parasitize the human body. And all diseases caused by these worms are collectively called helminthiases.


In fact, each type of worm causes a certain helminthiasis, characterized by its own clinical manifestations, characteristics of the course, methods of treatment and prevention, as well as ways of infection and outcome options.

Each helminthiasis has its own name, which is given to it from the Latin name for the parasitic worm that provoked it. For example, roundworms cause ascariasis, Trichinella - trichinosis, pinworms - enterobiasis, etc. But in general, all parasitic infections caused by different worms are combined into a group of helminths.

Helminthiasis. Accordingly, if a person finds out that he is sick with helminthiasis, then this means that there is some kind of parasitic worm in his body. But for a more accurate diagnosis, you need to know what kind of worm it is. Depending on the location of the helminth, a person has various clinical manifestations of a parasitic infection.

For this, various analyzes are carried out, during which the type of parasite that caused the disease is established, and only after that treatment is started, aimed at eliminating the identified type of helminth. All helminths in the course of their development go through several stages (egg, larva, mature individual), which are their life cycle.

Accordingly, in humans, both larvae and eggs, and sexually mature individuals of various helminths can parasitize. However, for each particular type of worm, the human body is either an intermediate or a final host.


Therefore, some helminths parasitize humans only in the form of larvae or eggs, while others only in the form of sexually mature individuals. Helminths can parasitize in various organs and tissues in the human body, for example, in the lumen of the intestine, in blood vessels, in the liver, in the pancreas, in the lungs, in the brain, etc.

Depending on the type of parasite, its localization and the individual characteristics of the human body, helminthiases can occur in a latent form, manifesting themselves only with blurred and implicit symptoms, or in a severe form with a possible fatal outcome.

As a rule, helminth larvae and eggs develop in the external environment (soil, water) or in the body of an intermediate host (cats, dogs, fish, livestock, etc.), and already sexually mature individuals parasitize in the body of the final host. For helminths, the human body can be both the final and intermediate host.

Ways of infection with helminths of an adult

It is believed that helminth infection happened in every second person. This can be explained by the fact that the probability of eggs or larvae entering the human body is quite high due to the variety of transmission routes. A person can meet the pathogen almost everywhere: in a body of water, food, soil, household items.

Infection with helminths through soil and water


Through soil and water - geohelminthiases. They develop in sand, soil and water, then enter the human body and begin to lay eggs there. Further, the eggs of the worm get into the external environment together with excrement and wait in the wings to infect a new person.

Eating poorly washed vegetables and fruits, dirty hands, dust on food can lead to human infection with geohelminths. Some parasite eggs enter the human body through the skin of the feet and ankles.

Infection with helminths when communicating with a sick person

Helminthiasis. Sick person: in this way, pinworms are most often transmitted, the eggs of which are laid in the area of the human anus. With direct contact, they remain on the hands, and then on everything that the person touched. An elementary handshake can cause infection.

It is very important to wash your hands, not only when necessary, but also just so as to cleanse them of any accidental infection.

When pinworms appear in a child, he begins to scratch the anus area, and then touch bed linen, toys, towels, dishes, spreading helminths throughout the entire territory of residence.

Worm infestation through unprocessed food

Some helminths parasitize inside animals and fish. With insufficient heat treatment of food, they retain their viability and enter the human body during meals.


Dried fish and raw meat dishes are especially dangerous. This category also includes the use of raw water (from a well or water bodies), which contains many parasite eggs. Insects Some types of helminths can enter the human blood immediately after an insect bite.

Diagnosis of helminthiasis in adults

Since helminthiasis is a whole group of different diseases, many research methods are required for its diagnosis. These include:

  • analysis of anamnesis and complaints of the disease: malaise, general weakness, fatigue; allergic reactions (urticaria, allergic skin rash); decreased appetite (in some cases, on the contrary, its increase); nausea; vomiting; stomach ache; stool disorders (diarrhea, constipation); weight loss; discharge of worms (for example, pinworms) or their fragments (tapeworms) in the feces; itching in the anal area (most typical for pinworms); sleep disturbance (restless sleep); grinding teeth in sleep;
  • analysis of feces for helminths: (detection of helminth eggs in the patient's feces);
  • blood examination by ELISA: detection of antibodies against helminths. Antibodies are specific proteins of the immune system, the main function of which is to recognize the pathogen (virus or bacteria) and then eliminate it;
  • contrast radiography of the intestine: with a large accumulation of worms in the intestinal lumen, after ingestion of a special contrast mixture, accumulations of worms in the intestine become visible in the picture;
  • scraping for enterobiasis: pinworm eggs are found when examining a smear from the skin surrounding the anus under a microscope (scraping is taken from the skin with a spatula dipped in glycerin);
  • in rare cases, the worms themselves can be found in the feces (pinworms - relatively often);
  • consultation of an infectious disease specialist, parasitologist is also possible.

Helminthiasis - the main phases in adults

After the helminths or their larvae have entered the human body, the following stages of clinical manifestations are observed:

Acute stage of helminthiasis

This phase can last from 1 week to 3 months and is manifested by various common allergic and toxic reactions, regardless of the type of parasite. Severe organ damage such as hepatitis may develop. If you do not carry out proper treatment of helminthiasis at the chronic stage, then the disease turns into a chronic stage.


Serious lesions characteristic of the acute phase of the disease are: pneumonia; allergic myocarditis; meningoencephalitis; hepatitis; disorders of hemostasis. When examined, the infected may show an increase in the liver and spleen - hepatosplenomegaly, in the blood - an increased number of eosinophils - eosinophilia, an imbalance of different types of protein - dysproteinemia.

In the acute phase of the disease, patients complain of:

  • itchy recurrent skin rashes; local or generalized edema;
  • fever; an increase in regional lymph nodes;
  • pain in muscles and joints; cough, attacks of suffocation, chest pain;
  • abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, stool disorders.

Chronic stage of helminthiasis

In the chronic phase of helminthiasis, clinical manifestations directly depend on which organs the helminth parasitizes, on the intensity of the invasion and even on its size. There is a certain level of the number of each type of parasite, at which certain clinical manifestations occur.


The clinical effect depends on the location, type, number of parasites. Single individuals do not cause obvious problems to their hosts. Symptoms of the disease appear when there are too many parasites, resulting in manifestations of prolonged intoxication: malaise, loss of appetite, constant drowsiness and weakness, weight loss.

Parasites feed on foods that enter the human body (proteins, vitamins), therefore, at the chronic stage of helminthiasis, there is a lack of vitamins and minerals in the human body. As a result, the immune system weakens and becomes susceptible to various infectious diseases.

As a result of mechanical damage to tissues caused by helminths, inflammation, tissue atrophy, and disorders of various functions of organs and systems can occur. Intestinal obstruction may occur, due to intestinal blockage with ascaris. Waste products of helminths cause general toxic and allergic effects.

Symptoms of helminths in adults

For example, roundworms can first enter the stomach, and from there, with the blood stream, enter the lungs or liver. There they develop within three weeks, after which they again enter the intestines or stomach.

Echinococci are capable of infecting muscles and bones, and tapeworms even penetrate the brain. Also, some types of helminths can be in the respiratory system, causing a persistent cough.

Signs of infection directly depend on the localization of worms in the body. The largest colonies of parasites - roundworms, pinworms, tapeworms - are in the intestines, however, some of the helminths are able to move through the body.

Pinworms are often located in the anus, causing severe itching. In women, they can also be localized in the genitals. Parasites such as feline fluke and liver fluke often live in the liver and pancreas.

Depending on the localization, the following manifestations of helminthiasis occur:

Dysfunction of the gastrointestinal tract

  • constipation: large worms can close the intestinal lumen, which provokes a violation of the stool. Constipation may last for more than two days;
  • diarrhea: some parasites produce a special substance that stimulates the body to release undigested food debris along with a lot of water;
  • flatulence: certain types of helminths provoke bloating in the small intestine, resulting in excess gas formation. If you do not get rid of the worms in time, flatulence can last up to several months;
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Helminths can cause inflammation in the intestines, resulting in malabsorption of nutrients and irregular bowel movements.

Allergic reactions and skin manifestations

  • allergy: the secretions of helminths can cause the body to produce special cells - eosinophils. They lead to tissue inflammation, which causes the development of allergic reactions;
  • skin diseases: as a result, a person develops acne, wrinkles, hives, acne and even papillomas. Sometimes helminth infection leads to increased fragility of nails and hair;
  • anemia: Certain types of worms are able to stick to the walls of the intestine, receiving not only nutrients from it, but also blood. As a result, a person develops anemia;
  • weight change: most often, helminth infestation leads to dramatic weight loss. The fact is that parasites absorb a significant amount of nutrients that enter the human body with food. In addition, the presence of helminthic invasion often leads to loss of appetite. However, in some cases, an increase in body weight is observed in a person - this process is a protective reaction of the body to the release of worms;

Nervous system disorders and general malaise

  • problems in the functioning of the nervous system: the presence of worms in the body adversely affects the state of the nervous system. As a result, a person develops anxiety, anxiety, and even depression begins;
  • sleep disturbance: if a person wakes up in the middle of every night of sleep, this may indicate a helminthic invasion. It is at this time that the liver is cleared of toxins produced by helminths. Usually at night, parasites can leave the body through the anus, and this process is accompanied by a sensation of severe itching;
  • inflammatory process in the respiratory tract: helminths can move freely through various organs, and, of course, the respiratory system is no exception. If the worms block the airways, breathing may be difficult. Also, a person often has a cough and body temperature rises. A rather dangerous complication of helminthiasis is the development of bronchial asthma.

Decreased immunity and, as a result, the development of infectious diseases

  • Immune system disorders : Helminth infestation can cause immune disorders. As a result, a person is much more likely to suffer from viral diseases. He may develop allergic reactions to familiar foods. In the intestine, dysbiosis or colitis often develops, and acne and herpes appear on the face.
  • oncological diseases: helminths can poison the body so badly that the immune system simply cannot cope with this process. As a result, various complications develop, including those favoring the appearance of malignant tumors.

Features of the course of helminthiasis during pregnancy

No one is immune from infection with worms, and, of course, pregnant women are no exception. Moreover, during the gestation of a child, the immune system is significantly weakened, and therefore the threat of the development of helminthiasis increases.


To prevent this from happening, it is worth paying attention to the prevention of the disease - it is good to wash your hands after using the toilet or contact with animals, carefully process vegetables, herbs and fruits before eating.

When infected with ascaris, the dosage is 1.5-2 g, the course of treatment is 2 days, 2 doses one hour before meals. If a pregnant woman is diagnosed with pinworms, therapy should be continued for 5 days, taking the drug at the same dosage.

If the infection does happen, you should immediately consult a doctor. Not every medicine for worms can be taken during pregnancy. During this period, only the use of piperazine is permissible.

Worms are quite common in adults, causing serious disturbances in the work of many organs and systems. In order to prevent the development of dangerous complications, it is worthwhile to engage in the prevention of helminthiasis.

Helminthiasis - prevention

Helminthiases are parasitic diseases, they are treated by an infectious disease doctor. However, many people who become ill at first do not know what happened to them. For any unclear conditions, it is best to contact a local therapist.

In some cases, when various internal organs are affected by parasites, it is necessary to consult a cardiologist, pulmonologist, neurologist, gastroenterologist, ophthalmologist, urologist. If there are pets in the house, proper care should be provided for them, including their regular vaccination and deworming.

The basis for the primary prevention of any type of helminthiasis (i.e., prevention of infection) is the formation of both a child and an adult, a healthy lifestyle, which includes the social well-being of the family, the level of culture of all its members, and material security.

The most important preventive measure is sufficient heat treatment of meat and fish products. Raw fish (such as sushi) should not be eaten. Prevention of helminthiasis can be carried out through the use of medicines.

Indications for the use of medicines for prevention:

  • regular contact with pets;
  • finding children in children's groups;
  • contact with the ground;
  • hobby for fishing or hunting;
  • frequent travel to exotic countries.

To prevent the spread of infection from an infected person to all family members, you can use individual towels, dishes, personal hygiene items and other accessories for everyday use.

In the spring-summer period, one should not forget about the possibility of infection with helminths by eating dirty vegetables, fruits, berries, as well as through soil and water. The risk of this decreases significantly if the rules of personal hygiene are followed and the fruit is thoroughly washed before use.

Find out more:

  • Biohelminths and geohelminths: symptoms and what they are
  • Helminths in humans: signs, symptoms and treatment