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Symptoms of Intestinal Worms

Intestinal worms are parasites, deriving their nutrition from the human gut. Three types of worms can infest the human intestine: roundworms, tapeworms and flukes. The various species within these groups can live in different parts of the intestines, causing differing symptom patterns. People with mild to moderate intestinal worm infestations may not show symptoms.

Diarrhea

Abdominal Pain

Signs of Intestinal Worms in Humans

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Abdominal pain associated with intestinal worms typically is cramping and intermittent. Sudden onset of severe abdominal pain may signal intestinal obstruction, which may occur with heavy infestation of the roundworms Ascaris lumbricoides.

Growth Retardation

Children are particularly susceptible nutritional deficiencies because of infestations by intestinal roundworms. Weight loss may occur with severe cases of ancylostomiasis and strongyloidiasis.

Fatigue

Symptoms of Roundworms in People

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Fatigue may be a symptom of infestation with intestinal worms, especially those that feed off the blood supply flowing through the intestines. According to “The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals,” severe cases of ancylostomiasis and strongyloidiasis may provoke anemia and fatigue 134. Long-standing infection with the fish tapeworm, Diphyllobothrium latum, can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to anemia. Fish tapeworm infestation also may cause fatigue.

  • Fatigue may be a symptom of infestation with intestinal worms, especially those that feed off the blood supply flowing through the intestines.
  • According to “The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals,” severe cases of ancylostomiasis and strongyloidiasis may provoke anemia and fatigue 1.

Cough and Lung Congestion

The life cycle of some roundworms involves migration of an immature form of the worm through the lungs. The presence of the immature worms can trigger an inflammatory reaction known as pulmonary eosinophilia. Dr. David Kaufman notes in a Medline Plus entry that symptoms may include dry cough, shortness of breath, fever, chest pain and wheezing. Roundworm infestations associated with pulmonary eosinophilia include ascariasis, ancylostomiasis, strongyloidiasis and trichinosis.

  • The life cycle of some roundworms involves migration of an immature form of the worm through the lungs.
  • The presence of the immature worms can trigger an inflammatory reaction known as pulmonary eosinophilia.

Worms in the Stool

Tapeworms are the largest of the intestinal worms, and the passed segments can be substantial. On the other end of the scale are the pinworms, which are thread-like worms less than one-half inch long. These worms also be passed in the stool, but often go unnoticed.

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