Worms as vivid representatives of parasitism on Earth are a big problem not only for individual infected people, but also for whole countries, where they sometimes become a real disaster. Usually, when people talk about worms, they mostly imagine small white worms living in the human intestine. But in fact, the types of worms in humans are extremely diverse, both in size and in terms of duration of existence. Some types of helminths (this is how worms are called in the medical literature) can be viewed only in a powerful optical device, and there are species that reach 18-20 meters in length and parasitize inside a person for up to twenty years.
Infection of people (especially children) with worms is a frequent occurrence. Eggs of helminths, which the female reproduces in huge quantities, are extremely resilient and adapted to the internal conditions of stay in the human body and to the external environment into which they enter with feces.
The shell of eggs reliably protects them from mechanical external influences and climatic factors, including heat and cold. There they wait for a favorable opportunity to get into the organism of their “host”, where they immediately become fixed, develop, transform into ready-made sexually mature individuals and again infect the “host” with a gigantic number of eggs, which begin a new stage of reproduction. Next, we will take a closer look at what worms are in humans.
What types of worms are found in humans
Classification of helminths can be based on various characteristics - for example, by the place of their parasitism in the human body. On this basis, they are divided into intestinal and extraintestinal.
Intestinal worms are parasites that have adapted to live in the gastrointestinal tract. These are round and tapeworms.
Extraintestinal worms are those that have adapted to parasitize in other human organs - for example, in the eyes, liver, lungs and even in the brain.
It is possible to classify the varieties of helminths by the way they enter the body of the main host. On this basis, they are subdivided into contagious, biohelminthic and geohelminthic.
Contagious worms are those that an infected person passes on to a healthy person during communication. For children, the transmission objects may include toys. This group of helminths includes pinworms and dwarf tapeworm.
Biohelminthic worms are those that are transmitted to humans through communication with animals, as well as in the case of eating poorly processed meat. Animals in this case are called "intermediate" hosts of helminths. This species includes bovine and pork tapeworms.
Geohelminthic types of worms include those whose part of their life is spent in the soil (ground), as a result of which their name has the prefix "geo". Infection with this variety of worms can occur through unwashed fruits or vegetables. This group includes helminths such as trichina and roundworm.
Varieties of worms 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.
Features of human worms
Let's start with the round parasites - these are nematodes. They have an elongated round body. Their life cycle occurs with a change of owners. This infection is common in children. These include the following types of worms.
- Ascarids, parasitizing in the intestine, and they easily move through it, poison the entire host organism and live in it for more than a year. Their length reaches half a meter.
- Hookworm and nekator (by their great similarity they are combined into "hookworm"). 15 mm long, live in the duodenum, feed on blood. They can enter a person both through the mouth with food and through the skin (for example, barefoot on an infected soil area).
- Vlasoglav up to 4 cm long. It feeds on blood, sucking on the mucous membrane of the large or cecum. It has been a parasite in humans for five years.
- Pinworms are small parasites, the length of which reaches 1 cm. They parasitize in the large and small intestines. Life expectancy is about 1. 5 months. Children are most susceptible to infection.
- Trichinella settles in the heart, lungs, eyes. Length - no more than 1 cm. They penetrate a person with food - poorly thermally processed meat. They live up to two years.
Flatworms are classified into fluke and cestode.
Trematodes are helminths with a leaf-shaped body with two suckers (one is used to attach to the host's body, the other is used for feeding). Body size can be from a few millimeters to one and a half meters. The development of such types of worms occurs with the use of an intermediate "host" by them. In the main "host" they live in the digestive tract. They do not need their own digestive system, because they parasitize completely at the expense of the food resources of their "host". With a strong infection with this helminth, people begin to lose weight, even if they eat a lot. The following parasites are referred to as trematodes.
- Liver fluke - helminth up to 20 mm, lives in the liver. A person can become infected with it by eating poorly processed fish.
- Fluke - helminth up to 1. 5 cm. It lives in the gallbladder. These helminths, their types are found in our country, but there are also tropical types.
- Schistosomes are trematodes that live in the host's blood. They live in warm countries. 30 mm long, their diameter is 1 mm. A feature of this parasite is that its female lives all her life in a special fold of the male. They live like this for several years inseparably and produce a huge number of eggs. A person can contract schistosoma while swimming.
Cestodes are worms with a segmental body structure. Segments successively grow from the head section of the helminth and during its life they move further and further to the tail. As they move, a huge number of eggs are fertilized and grow in them. Having reached the tail end, they fall away from the uterine body, with human feces they enter the external environment, where they begin the next phase of life. In the main host, they live in the intestines, clinging to special suckers up to 20 m.
Let's consider the types of helminths in more detail.
- Pork tapeworm- helminth up to 2 m, lives in the small intestine. Thermally poorly processed pork is the source of this infection. The human body for the pork tapeworm is an intermediate host, which follows from its very 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, but only surgically removed.
- Bull tapeworm(up to 10 m). It lives in the small intestine, for which it has suction cups. Thermally poorly processed beef meat is the main source (that's why it is called bovine).
- Wide tapeworm(up to 20 m) lives in the small intestine. Infection occurs through thermally poorly processed crayfish and fish.
A wide variety of helminth species in humans cause serious dysfunction.
Worm infection symptoms
The symptoms of the disease depend on the type of helminths that hit a person. They can be very diverse, because these parasites are able to live in almost all parts of the body and organs of a person. Varieties of worms cause the most common symptoms of infection:
- itching in the anal area;
- diarrhea and other stool disorders;
- pain in the abdomen;
- weight reduction;
- increased appetite;
- muscle pain;
- sleep disorders;
- allergic manifestations;
- increased fatigue.
Treatment and prevention of helminthic invasion (infection)
Types of helminthiases (groups of infectious diseases) depend on the type of helminth and its localization in the human body. At the same time, helminthiases can be secretive or difficult, sometimes even fatal. In general, there are as many helminthiases as there are all types of helminths, and so far no universal cure has been found for all parasites. Therefore, for effective treatment, you need to know exactly what kind of parasites a person has become infected with.
In medicine, a lot of drugs have been developed and tested to treat helminths. Many of them are toxic to the patient, so self-medication is not recommended. If you suspect an infection, you should see a specialist.
It should be noted that often the primary treatment destroys only adults of the worms, but their eggs and larvae remain viable in the body, and after some time after treatment, the worms can again make themselves felt with symptoms. Therefore, the repeated use of these drugs is possible.
Folk remedies for worms
Here are some of the time-tested folk remedies for worms with invariably positive results. In everyday life, each person should be able to fight this parasite with affordable and cheap means. These products include pumpkin and linseed seeds (both raw and in the form of a decoction), pumpkin oil, onion decoction, decoctions of wormwood, tansy and ginger, garlic with milk.
But it is better not to be infected with helminths at all. For this, well-known preventive measures should be applied - washing hands, processing vegetables and fruits, conducting thermal processing of pork, beef and fish, observing caution when dealing with pets. Constant adherence to these simple rules will dramatically reduce the risk of infection with helminths.