What Are Intestinal Worms and How Do They Affect You?

Intestinal worms, or helminths, might sound like characters from a horror movie, but they’re actually parasites that love to make their home inside human intestines. Common culprits include roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale), and whipworms (Trichuris trichiura). These uninvited guests are especially common in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa.

 

How Do You Get Them?

Intestinal worms are masters of travel. They often hitch a ride into the human body through contaminated food, water, or soil. Walking barefoot on contaminated soil or eating vegetables that haven’t been properly washed can open the door for these parasites to enter your digestive tract.

 

What Do They Do Once Inside?

Once inside, these worms don’t exactly pay rent. Instead, they absorb nutrients from your food, which can lead to malnutrition and anemia, particularly in children who need every bit of nutrition for growth and development. Symptoms of infestation include tiredness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and in severe cases, physical and cognitive growth delays in children.

 

The Impact on Communities

In communities, widespread infestation can affect overall health and productivity. Children might miss school or perform poorly due to illness, and adults may find it difficult to work.

 

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing intestinal worm infections involves a combination of personal hygiene and community health initiatives. Washing hands and food, using sanitary toilets, and wearing shoes can greatly reduce the risk of infection. Regular deworming treatments in schools and communities also help keep these parasites at bay.

 

For those already infected, treatment usually involves medication that kills the worms. These medicines are effective and can significantly improve health outcomes when administered regularly in areas with high rates of infection.

 

Why Should You Care?

Understanding and preventing intestinal worm infections is crucial for promoting health and development in affected regions. By taking simple preventive measures and supporting community health programs, you can help kick these parasites out of their favorite hangouts — our intestines!

 

References

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-worms-people-can-get

https://www.healthline.com/health/intestinal-worms#causes

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/worms-in-humans/

https://www.healthline.com/health/intestinal-worms#prevention

https://www.who.int/news/item/29-09-2017-who-recommends-large-scale-deworming-to-improve-children-s-health-and-nutrition#

https://www.healthline.com/health/intestinal-worms#treatment

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