Worms, as vivid representatives of parasitism on Earth, are a major problem not only for individual infected people but also for entire countries, where they sometimes become real disasters. Usually, when people talk about worms, they mostly imagine white and white worms living in human intestines. But in fact, the types of worms in humans are extremely diverse, both in size and duration of existence. Certain types of helminths (as worms are called in the medical literature) can only be viewed with a powerful optical device, and there are species that reach 18 to 20 meters in length and parasitize inside humans for up to twenty years.
Infections of humans (especially children) with worms are common. The eggs of helminths, which the female reproduces in huge quantities, are extremely resistant and adapt to the internal conditions of residence in the human body and to the external environment into which they are excreted.
Egg shells reliably protect them from mechanical external influences and climatic factors, including heat and cold. They are waiting for the opportunity to enter their “master’s” body, where they are immediately fixed, evolving, transformed into mature sexually mature individuals, and re-infecting the “host” with a gigantic number of eggs that begin a new phase of reproduction. We then take a closer look at what worms are in humans.
What types of worms are found in humans
The classification of helminth samples can be based on various characteristics, such as the location of their parasitism in the human body. Based on this, they are divided into intestinal and extraintestinal.
Intestinal worms are parasites that have adapted to life in the gastrointestinal tract. These are round and tapeworms.
Extraintestinal worms are those that have adapted to parasitize in other human organs, such as the eyes, liver, lungs, and even the brain.
It is possible to classify the types of helminths according to the way they enter the body of the main host. Based on this, they are divided into infectious, biohelminthic and geohelminthic.
Infectious worms are those that an infected person passes to a healthy person during communication. For children, the transfer items can also be toys. This group of helminths includes pinworms and dwarf tapeworms.
Biohelminthic worms include those that spread to humans through communication with animals and the consumption of poorly processed meat. The animals in this case are called the "intermediate" host of the helminths. This species includes bovine and porcine tapeworms.
Geohelminthic types of worms are those that spend part of their lives in the soil, resulting in a "geo" prefix in their name. These types of worms can be infected through unwashed fruits or vegetables. This group includes helminths such as trichinae and wormwood.
Worm species can be classified according to their biological characteristics. In this case, they are divided into flat ones, which in turn consist of trematodes, cestodes, and nematodes.
Characteristics of human worms
Let's start with round parasites - these are nematodes. They have a long round body. Their life cycle occurs with a change of ownership. This infection is common in children. These include the following types of worms.
- Ascarids that parasitize in the gut, which easily pass through it, poison the entire host and live in it for more than a year. Their length reaches half a meter.
- Hookworm and nekator (due to their great similarity, they merge into a "hookworm"). 15 mm long, lives in the duodenum, feeds on blood. They can enter humans through the mouth, food, and skin (e. g. , barefoot on infected soil).
- Vlasoglav is up to 4 cm long, feeds on blood, sucks the mucous membranes of the large or appendix. It has been a parasite in humans for five years.
- Pinworms are tiny parasites that reach 1 cm in length and parasitize the colon and small intestine. The life expectancy is about 1, 5 months. Children are most susceptible to infection.
- Trichinella settles in the heart, lungs and eyes. Length - up to 1 cm, with food - poorly heat-treated meat - penetrate the person. They live for two years.
Flatworms are classified as fluke and cestode.A
Trematodes are leaf-shaped helminths with two suction cups (one attached to the farmer's body and the other used for feeding). Body size can range from a few millimeters to one and a half meters. These types of worms are formed using an intermediate "host". They live in the main “host” in the digestive system. They don’t need their own digestive system because they are completely parasitic at the expense of their “host ”’s food resources. With a strong infection with helminth, people start to lose weight even if they eat a lot. The following parasites are called trematodes.
- Liver layer - helminth up to 20 mm, lives in the liver. One can become infected by consuming poorly processed fish.
- Fluke - worm up to 1, 5 cm. He lives in the gallbladder. These helminths and their types can be found in Hungary, but there are also tropical types.
- Schistosomes are trematodes that live in the blood of the host. They live in warm countries. 30 mm long and 1 mm in diameter. This parasite is characterized by the fact that its female lives in the special wrinkle of the male throughout her life. They live this way inseparably for several years and produce plenty of eggs. A person may get a schistosome while swimming.
Cestodes are segmental worms. The segments grow one after the other from the head of the helminth and move further and further towards the tail throughout its life. During their movement, a lot of eggs fertilize and grow in them. Arriving at the tail, they fall off the womb, with human feces entering the external environment where the next stage of life begins. In the main host, they live in the intestines, adhering to special suction cups up to 20 m.
Let's examine the types of helminths in more detail.
- Swine tapeworm- Helminth up to 2 m lives in the small intestine. Poorly thermally processed pork is a source of infection. The human body of the porcine tapeworm is an intermediate host, which already follows from its name.
- Echinococcusis a helminth that also uses humans as an intermediate host. Dogs and cats are the main carriers. Echinococcal colonies cannot be treated in humans, they can only be surgically removed.
- Bull tapeworm(up to 10 m). He lives in the small intestine, to which he has suction cups. Poorly processed beef in heat sources is the main source (hence it is called beef).
- Wide tapeworm(up to 20 m) lives in the small intestine. Infection occurs through thermally poorly processed crabs and fish.
The diversity of helminth species causes severe dysfunction in humans.
Symptoms of a worm infection
The symptoms of the disease depend on the type of helminths that hit the person. They can be very diverse because these parasites are able to live in almost every part of the body and in human organs. The types of worms that cause the most common symptoms of infection are:
- itching in the rectal area;
- diarrhea and other stool disorders;
- abdominal pain;
- weight loss;
- increased appetite;
- muscle pain;
- sleep disorders;
- allergic manifestations;
- increased fatigue.
Treatment and prevention of helminthic invasion (infection)
The types of helminthiasis (groups of infectious diseases) depend on the type of helminth and its localization in the human body. In this case, helminthiasis can continue covertly or severely, sometimes fatal. In general, there is as much helminthiasis as there are all kinds of helminthiases, and so far no universal cure has been found for all parasites. Therefore, for effective treatment, you need to know exactly what parasites a person is infected with.
A number of drugs have been developed and tested in medicine to treat helminths. Many of them are toxic to the patient, so self-medication is not recommended. If you suspect an infection, you should consult a specialist.
It should be noted that primary treatment often only kills adult adults of the worms, but their eggs and larvae remain viable in the body and after a period of treatment, the worms may show symptoms again. Therefore, it is possible to re-use these drugs.
Folk remedies for worms
Here are some of the worms that have proven themselves over time with invariably positive results. In everyday life, everyone should be able to fight this parasite with affordable and inexpensive means. These products include pumpkin and flax seeds (both raw and in the form of decoctions), pumpkin oil, onion decoctions, wormwood, tansy and ginger decoctions, garlic with milk.
But it's better not to get infected with helminths at all. This requires well-known preventive measures - hand washing, processing of vegetables and fruits, heat treatment of pork, beef and fish, taking care when dealing with pets. Continuous adherence to these simple rules drastically reduces the risk of helminth infection.