Healthy Living

What Is Ascariasis: Symptoms and Treatment

What Is Ascariasis: Symptoms and Treatment

What is ascariasis?

Ascariasis is a parasitic infection of the small intestine caused by the roundworm called Ascaris lumbricoides. Ascariasis is a common roundworm infection, especially in children. 

According to one of the reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 10 percent of the developing nations are said to be infected with intestinal worms. However, such parasitic infections are not commonly found in the United States. Ascariasis is usually a common occurrence in places with poor sanitation. Moreover, individuals usually acquire the infection through the consumption of unsafe water or food.

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Although this infection does not really show symptoms, severe infestations with a high number of roundworms can possibly cause troubles with the lungs or intestines.

Symptoms

Individuals with ascariasis would mostly show no signs or symptoms. However, symptoms tend to become noticeable when there is an infestation. When the roundworms are present in the lungs, it can lead to symptoms, such chest discomfort, gagging, or a wheezing sound. In rare cases, there would be aspiration pneumonia, fever, coughing, the presence of blood in mucus, and shortness of breath.

When roundworms are present in the intestines, they can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss 
  • Diarrhea
  • Impaired growth in children due to malabsorption
  • Presence of worms in stool
  • Irregularity in stools
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Intestinal blockage leading to severe pain

Few individuals with a severe roundworm infestation may also experience other symptoms, such as fatigue or fever. An individual may have all or most of the above symptoms if no prompt treatment is received.

Treatment

Doctors usually make use of antiparasitic drugs for the treatment of roundworm infections. Few of the commonly used medications would include mebendazole, albendazole, and ivermectin. These drugs are known to be taken for just one to three days. Other medications that are also effective in treating such infection include levamisole, pyrantel pamoate, and piperazine citrate.

Pyrantel pamoate is mostly used when treating intestinal infections in pregnant women since mebendazole and albendazole can lead to teratogenic issues to the fetus. For individuals suffering from an advanced infestation, they may need other forms of treatment. The doctor may also recommend surgery to control the case of a larger infestation. When roundworms completely block the intestines, then the individual has to go through the option of surgery.

Below are few of the home remedies to try out aside from taking the conventional route of medications:

Coconut:

This has been considered as one of the most effective antiparasitic home remedies. Coconut is considered a strong antiparasitic agent, which effectively counters the damaging effects of intestinal worms. An individual can simply consume a tablespoon of grated coconut every morning as breakfast to reduce the symptoms caused by these worms. You can also drink around 30 ml of castor oil and 375 ml of milk. This mixture can be taken three hours after consuming the coconut.

Garlic:

Garlic is a widely used spice around the world. It also contains strong antiparasitic properties that help in eliminating various types of intestinal parasites. Garlic is also known to contain high amounts of sulfur. These sulfur-containing amino acids are also known to have antiparasitic properties. Garlic is considered as a super food since it has antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties along with strong antioxidant properties, which can help in eliminating small worms in the body. Hence, garlic is considered to be one of the most reliable as well as time-tested home remedies, which can also be used to relieve rectal itching due to intestinal worms. To relieve itching, you can make a paste of raw garlic and Vaseline, and apply it to the affected region. This would also help in killing the eggs. One can also consume three cloves of garlic every day. 

Papaya:

The papaya fruit has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of intestinal worms. This fruit is known to produce latex, which is said to be rich in papain, which is a digestive enzyme. Unripe papaya has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for treating a number of ailments, which also includes intestinal worms. The seeds of the papaya are also known to contain caricin, which helps in expelling worms out of the body. The enzyme papain is known to effectively destroy roundworms. You can grate some raw papaya to extract its juice and then drink a tablespoon of this juice along with an equal portion of water and honey. Two hours after consuming this juice, you can also consume 30 ml of castor oil and 250 ml of milk. This treatment is considered as an excellent home remedy for small children who are suffering from parasitic infections. One can also consume ground papaya seeds along with milk or water.

Pomegranate Tree Bark: 

Various parts of the pomegranate such as the leaves, root, bark, and stems are all useful since they are known to contain anthelmintic properties. Pomegranate is considered as one of the best remedies for treating any kind of parasitic worms present in the body. The alkaloid punicine present in the bark of this fruit is known to be quite toxic to these worms, especially tapeworms. You can add a two-inch piece of the tree bark to at least a cup of water and boil it until the amount of water becomes half after evaporation. Now, allow this mixture to cool down and consume it thrice a day. It can be consumed at certain intervals with a gap of a couple of hours. You can also consume a purgative fruit, such as an avocado or a banana, to encourage a smooth bowel movement. It is important to carry out this remedy for a couple of days. However, when it comes to using this remedy for children, it is better to reduce the dosage to one-third. Just by consuming the juice of pomegranate or just eating it as it is would help any kind of parasitic attacks.

Pumpkin Seeds:

The pumpkin seeds are highly recommended and also regarded as an effective cure for those suffering from intestinal roundworms. Pumpkin seeds are known to have a compound called cucurbitacin, which contains strong antiparasitic properties that help in paralyzing the parasites. In such a state, these parasites would not be able to hold on to the walls of the intestines, so they can be effectively flushed out of the body. The seeds are also known to help kill tapeworms. One can either chew the seeds or make a powder from it, and mix it with juice for drinking. After a couple of hours, you can then take a dose of laxative that would help in cleansing the digestive tract.

Ajwain or Carom Seeds:

These seeds are yet another effective method to get rid of intestinal parasites. Carom seeds are found to be rich in thymol, which helps in obstructing the growth of these worms in the intestinal tract. Ayurvedic medicine has also claimed that when carom seeds are mixed along with jiggery, it would help in treating intestinal parasites.

Neem Leaves or the Indian Lilac:

Neem, which is also called as the Indian lilac, has been popularly accepted as one of the best natural remedies when it comes to treating intestinal parasites. Neem has some excellent antiviral, antibacterial, and antiparasitic properties, which not only help in killing these parasites, but would also help in removing any toxins that are left behind by the dead parasites. Fry in one tablespoon of dry neem flowers into a teaspoon of ghee or clarified butter. Now, consume this mixture with plain rice twice a day for a period of four days. You can also drink a glass of warm milk or water, which is mixed along with a tablespoon of dried neem leaf powder. This mixture should be consumed twice a day for seven days. Another option is to grind the neem leaves to a fine paste and then consume one tablespoon of the paste along with a glass of water. This should be done every morning and on an empty stomach for a period of one week. Give a gap of one week in between and repeat the same process on the third week. However, it is important to note that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should not consume neem. 

Carrots:

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and are quite effective in flushing off these worms from the body. Vitamin A is said to help in dissolving the spores of the parasites. Carrots are considered to be a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc, wherein the latter would help in boosting the immunity of the individual. Grate two carrots and consume them first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Do not consume anything else in the morning. This can be done on a daily basis for a period of one week to get rid of the worms.

Turmeric:

Another well-known natural remedy for treating intestinal parasites is the use of turmeric. Turmeric has antimicrobial, antiseptic, as well as antiviral properties. It can help in completely flushing out the parasites from the system. Turmeric is also considered a good remedy to reduce bloating as well as the other symptoms caused by these worms.

Cloves:

Clove is also known to contain antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Cloves would help in eliminating parasitic spores and to flush out any intestinal worms present in the body. Cloves are mostly found to help in improving the resistance of future infections of any kind.

Prognosis

The prognosis of this condition, when diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, can turn out to be really good. However, the prognosis may be poor if the patient has a severe worm infestation, which can then lead to serious complications, such as intestinal or duct obstruction that can further worsen the prognosis.

Key Takeaways

  • Ascariasis is a parasitic infection of the small intestine caused by the roundworm called Ascaris lumbricoides
  • Ascariasis is a common roundworm infection, especially in children. 
  • Individuals with ascariasis would mostly show no signs or symptoms. However, symptoms tend to become noticeable when there is an infestation.