Helminthiasis is a group of diseases in which various lower types of worms parasitize the human body. Worms are unable to feed, grow, and reproduce on their own outside the body of another organism. While in the host, the parasites feed on its blood, food mass, and other resources, leading to depletion and suppression of defense forces. In addition, helminth samples secrete waste products directly into human tissues and organs, causing gradual general intoxication of the body.
General information about helminthiasis
In modern medical practice, more than 240 different types of worms parasitize the human body, the most common of which are about 50. The most common cases of enterobiasis, ascariasis, and hookworm infection are detected. According to statistics, more than 8-10% of the population in European countries is affected by one type or another of helminthiasis, and in the states of Asia and Africa, the infection reaches 70-80%.
In most cases, patients are diagnosed with tapeworms, ie dumplings and tapeworms, less commonly flatworms, tapeworms, fungi. The life cycle of parasites consists of three main stages: eggs, larvae and adults. And depending on the type and stage of development of helminth, there are several ways to be infected with helminthic invasion:
- Biohelminthiasis is a disease in which one of the cycles of worm formation takes place in the body of an intermediate host.
- Geohelminthiasis - invasions of pathogens that pass through any stage of development in the external environment.
- Infectious helminthiasis - pathologies in which mature sections of the parasite are isolated from the body of an infected person.
Attention!Worm infection is a dangerous disease because it can lead to the rapid depletion of the human body’s resources and the disruption of various organs and systems. Certain types of helminthiases, such as cysticercosis of the brain, are extremely difficult to treat and can be fatal.
Clinical picture of different types of helminthiasis
|Species||Duration of the invasion||Acute phase||Invasiveness||Danger to life|
|4-6 weeks||Undetermined||Relatively high||No|
|12 months||Spoken, rarely seen||Moderate||In rare cases|
|10-20 years||Acute allergic reaction||Low or medium||In severe pathology|
|From several months to several years||Acute allergic reaction||Low or medium||In severe pathology|
|Decades||Not found||Moderate||high risk|
|Decades||Not found||Low or medium||Serious risk|
|Several weeks or months||Acute allergic reaction||Medium to high||high risk|
Symptoms of helminthiasis in adults
The clinical picture of helminthic invasions is quite diverse and in many respects represents a response of the immune system to the proliferation of parasites in the human body. Secondary symptoms are due to the effects of toxins on various organs and systems. In the course of the disease, a distinction should be made between the acute phase, which lasts an average of two to seven weeks, and the chronic phase. In the initial stage, most helminthiasis does not manifest in any way, but over time, the harmful effects of the parasites on the body increase, leading to the appearance of characteristic signs:
- Cough, has existed for a long time. This symptom occurs for two reasons. In the first case, the cough reflex appears due to irritation of the nerve endings in the bronchial tree when the parasitic larvae move through it. In addition, prolonged cough with abundant sputum causes pulmonary helminthiasis. This is a serious form of pathology in which parasites are localized in the alveoli or lung cavity. A characteristic feature of cough with helminthiasis is the inability to stop it with antitussive or antibacterial drugs.
- Acute skin reaction. It develops due to acute allergosis and the appearance of acne, boils, hives, etc.
- Epithelial damage. Ulcers, petechiae and necrotic areas appear on the mucous membranes. Examination of the mucosa of the anus reveals furrows that appear due to the movement of needles to exit the rectum.
- Catarrhal phenomena. It also occurs due to irritation of the epidermis, manifested by runny nose, hyperemia, and swelling of the throat.
- Defecation disorder. Diarrhea is most common in the early stages of the disease. Diarrhea is caused by a disorder of the digestive tract, the digestion and absorption of food.
- Swelling and vomiting. This pathology is characteristic of invasions in which parasites block the bile ducts.
- Constipation, abdominal pain, bloating- a symptom of a late stage of helminthiasis. It appears due to a dense clot-like accumulation of parasites that block the lumen of the gut.
- Nervousness, anxiety, sleep disorders.
- Suppression of the immune system. In adults, drowsiness, fatigue and an increased tendency to catch a cold occur.
- Symptoms of general intoxicationorganizationdue to the spread of parasites through the cardiovascular system: headache, irritability, lethargy, muscle and joint pain, depression.
Attention!In the presence of helminthiasis, the species of the parasite must be identified. This allows you to select the optimal treatment. Improperly prescribed therapy does not lead to recovery, but can have a detrimental effect on the patient’s health.
Symptoms of helminthiasis in children
Children are much more susceptible to helminthic invasion than adults. This is due to the imperfection of the child's immune system and digestive system. Helminthiasis is most commonly seen in preschoolers and younger schoolchildren.
Attention!The most common type of disease is enterobiasis, a fungal infection. Invasion occurs during contact-household transfer during children’s shared play in kindergartens, playgrounds, and so on. In the digestive system of a healthy adult, fungal eggs are rapidly destroyed, while in the intestinal tract of children they are able to function for a long time.
Children have a harder time tolerating helminthiasis than adult patients. The resources of the child's body are rapidly depleted, leading to a number of characteristic symptoms:
- hypersalivation - excessive salivation;
- excessive activity, nervousness, tearing;
- weight loss with increased appetite;
- increased need for sweets due to lack of carbohydrates;
- skin and epithelial damage: rash, epithelial peeling of the eyelids and interdigital spaces, oral inflammation, ulceration of the nasal mucosa;
- frequent colds, pneumonia, bronchitis;
- anemic syndrome - a sudden lack of red blood cells and hemoglobin;
Attention!A characteristic sign of enterobiasis in children is itching of the evening anus. In addition, after defecation, there are white or yellowish spots in the child's stool - the eggs of intestinal worms.
Symptoms of helminthiasis depending on the type of parasite
The general symptoms of helminthiasis are generally similar and are caused by the toxic and immunosuppressive effects of the parasites on the body. It should be noted, however, that depending on the type of worms, the signs of the disease may show a number of characteristic differences. Particular attention should be paid to these symptoms as they indicate the type of helminthiasis the patient is suffering from.
Enterobiasis is the most common type of helminthiasis in which fungal worms parasitize the human body. These are small worms, up to 1, 2-1, 5 mm long, whitish gray or yellowish in color.
Attention!Enterobiasis infection occurs via the fecal or oral route. In children, cases of autoreinvasion, ie re-infection with helminth eggs entering the external environment, are most commonly observed.
In case of enterobiasis, the patient has the following symptoms:
- discomfort in the gut, bloating;
- dry skin, brittle nails;
- itching in the anus - a special sign of enterobiasis;
- vulvovaginitis - inflammation of the vulva and vaginal epithelium due to the entry of helminths into the genitals;
- sphincteritis - a spasm of the muscles of the rectal sphincter accompanied by swelling of the lining of the anus.
Attention!Enterobiasis is not only the most common but also the most easily identifiable type of helminthiasis. After defecation, the patient may find wormwood or the parasites in the feces.
Diphyllobothriasis is a type of helminthiasis that develops in the patient's body due to the multiplication of tapeworms. The parasites act in the small intestine of the host, resulting in disruption of the gastrointestinal tract. Consuming raw or undercooked fish can cause difillobothriasis.
Attention!The larvae of tapeworms are quite resistant to cold and dehydration. Therefore, consuming dried or dried fish can also lead to infection.
A patient with diphyllobothriasis is concerned about the characteristic signs of the disease:
- B-deficient anemia due to the absorption of vitamin B by parasites;
- weakness, nausea, headache;
- cracks in the lips and tongue, "lacquered tongue" - atrophic glossitis in which the surface of the tongue becomes smooth due to the death of the taste buds;
- acute violation of the gastrointestinal tract, dyspepsia;
- enlargement of the spleen;
- red or purple patches on the skin and mucous membranes, petechiae;
- gait disturbance;
- memory loss, insomnia;
The first symptoms of helminthiasis appear in the patient 30 to 60 days after infection. During this period, the helminth larvae must become adults in the human body.
Ascariasis is a common type of helminthiasis. It occurs due to the invasion of an ascaris patient. These are large parasites that can reach a length of 25-30 cm.
The disease can be diagnosed after the patient complains of signs of pathology:
- skin rashes;
- subfebrile fever;
- pain in the right hypochondria;
- cough, respiratory failure when the helminth enters the airways;
- increased salivation;
- diarrhea, which is eventually replaced by constipation;
- rapid fatigue, drowsiness.
Attention!Ascariasis can develop an infectious-toxic syndrome caused by poisoning the patient's body with the waste products of parasites. The pathology is manifested by an increase in body temperature to 39-40 ° C, intense headache, muscle and joint pain, and vomiting.
Cysticercosis is a specific type of helminthiasis in which the patient does not have adult parasites but their cysts, or larvae. The disease causes swine tapeworm, the eggs of which enter the human digestive system through food or water and then enter the various organs and systems through the bloodstream.
Depending on the localization of the cysts, different characteristic symptoms of the disease must be distinguished, however, there are several common signs of this pathology:
- deterioration of health, pain in the affected area;
- acute allergic reaction;
- violation of sensitivity;
- speech pathology;
- seizures of nervousness, aggression, apathy;
- the development of convex tumors in any part of the body that contains cysts;
- paralysis and paresis.
Attention!In more than 70% of cases, cysticercosis affects the patient's brain. In the case of minor invasions of helminths, they are removed by surgery. However, the proliferation of parasites is an incurable pathology and usually leads to death.
Tests for the presence of helminthiasis
It accurately determines the presence of parasites in the human body, enabling laboratory and instrumental diagnostic methods. Tests for helminthiasis should be divided into direct and indirect groups. In the first case, particles of parasites are detected directly in the materials seized for testing: eggs, cysts, segments, decomposition products. To perform such an analysis, any tissue or biological fluid from the patient should be examined:
- vomiting and bile;
- various tissues taken during the biopsy;
- intestinal lumen content;
- blood or plasma;
- the contents of the anus folds.
Attention!Indirect diagnostic methods are blood tests performed from a finger or vein. These assays allow the identification of general body allergies and the presence of immunoglobulins characteristic of helminthic invasion.
The purpose of macrohelminthoscopic examinations is to identify worms or parts of them in fluids and tissues: segments, cysts, decay products. Such diagnostic methods are required if the patient is suspected of having helminthiases in which it is impossible to detect the worm in the patient's stool. The analysis is performed without the use of a microscope to detect parts of the parasite that are visible to the naked eye.
Magnifiers, including magnifiers, are used only to detect small parasites after anthelmintic treatment. In this case, the test is needed to ensure that the treatment is effective while the body parts of the worms or dead worms are present in the stool.
The purpose of microhelminthoscopy is to detect oocytes or cysts in parasites. The Kato smear method is used for this. About 10-15 mg of faeces should be used for this. The analysis should be performed in the morning, washing is not recommended.
One skilled in the art will place the resulting stool on a slide and leave for 30-40 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, the material clears up, causing the parasites ’eggs to be clearly visible on the glass plate. Such a test detects tapeworms, whipworms, trematodes, tapeworms, etc.
Instrumental tests are also used to diagnose helminthiasis. They allow the extent of damage to certain organs by worms. The most common are computer or magnetic resonance imaging, colonoscopy, abdominal and retroperitoneal ultrasound, FGDS, radiography, and more.
Helminthiasis is a dangerous pathology in which a person is infected with parasitic worms. Depending on the severity of the course, helminthic invasion can significantly impair a patient’s quality of life, disrupting the functioning of various organs and systems, and even lead to death. Therefore, measures to prevent helminthiasis should be followed, pathological symptoms should be monitored in a timely manner, and medical attention should be sought. Lapham metaplasia can be read on our website.