What are worms?
Worms are a variety of different kinds of intestinal parasites that can infect humans. They include:
- Flatworms – such as flukes and tapeworms
- Roundworms – such as pinworms and hookworms
How are they transmitted?
Worms may enter a person’s body by means of contaminated water or undercooked meat or fish from an infected animal. In high risk areas, foods that are eaten raw such as fruits and vegetables may also be a source of transmission.
These parasites are present in some soils, so walking barefoot outside or touching contaminated soil with the hands without washing them afterwards may lead to infection. This means that children are particularly at risk, as they are likely to play in outside environments. Intestinal worms are more common in areas that have poor sanitation and hygiene due to the risk of coming into contact with contaminated faeces.
Once these parasites have entered a person’s body, they then travel to the intestines. The worms can then grow and reproduce themselves inside the host.
How are they diagnosed?
If symptoms indicate the possibility of a worm infestation, doctors may carry out a stool sample. The sample is then examined for the presence of worms or eggs, though multiple samples may be needed to confirm an infection. It is sometimes possible to use tape to obtain a sample of pinworm eggs from the anus. These can then be analysed using a microscope.
If these methods fail, a blood test can be taken to look for antibodies that the body has produced to fight a parasite. In some cases, an x-ray may be appropriate if the infection is severe.
What effect can they have on physical health?
Symptoms of a person having worms are mainly gastrointestinal and include abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea. The stool can contain blood and mucus; this condition is known as dysentery. Live or dead worms may also be excreted in the stool, which could cause a rash and itchiness around the rectum or vulva.
Individuals may also feel nauseous and vomit. Repeated vomiting can cause dehydration. The impact of these symptoms on the body may lead to physical exhaustion and the person may also have a high temperature.
Some people may have worms in their system for a long time before they experience any symptoms, even years. People with weaker immune systems are more at risk of suffering badly from an infection and could end up with anaemia.
What effect can they have on mental health?
Individuals with severe existing mental health problems may be more at risk of being exposed to parasitic worms, due to a lack of self-care and personal hygiene. However, there is also evidence to suggest that the reverse may be the case, that parasitic infections may lead on to mental health issues.
For example, this was demonstrated in one study following 2044 patients, some of which had pinworm infections. It was found that people who suffered from pinworms had a significantly higher risk of going on to develop a psychiatric disorder than those without worms. The mental health symptoms that participants experienced included anxiety, depression and trouble sleeping. This indicates that infections with worms, such as pinworms, may contribute towards mental illness.
Mental health issues triggered by worm infections may begin a long time after a person was initially exposed to the parasite.
What is the current treatment?
Antiparasitic medication may be prescribed to fight an infestation, though the type used will depend on the specific type of parasite involved. Roundworms tend to be treated using drugs such as albendazole or mebendazole. Tapeworm infections can be targeted by means of an oral medication called praziquantel, causing the worm to be paralysed and excreted in the stool. Use of bioresonance therapy can help to pinpoint and remove parasitic infections, such as worms, from the body, without the risk of harmful side effects.
Worms are a group of intestinal parasites that can infect humans, causing unpleasant symptoms in the gut. More severe symptoms may be experienced by immunocompromised people. Intestinal worms may also contribute towards the development of mental health problems a long time after the initial infection.
Most worm infections can be effectively treated using antiparasitic medication. BICOM® therapy can also be an effective method in helping to cleanse the body of parasites.