Worm Infections – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Worm diseases

In a worm disease , parasitic worms enter the human body and use it to reproduce. In most cases, worm infections are harmless and can be easily treated.

worm diseases

In a worm disease , parasitic worms enter the human body and use it to reproduce. In most cases, worm infections are harmless and can be easily treated.

The term worm disease refers to the colonization of worms in humans. These worms are called helminths. Helminths colonize the human body in order to reproduce. Affected are the hosts, which serve as a food source for the parasites .

Although helminth infections are a global phenomenon, southern countries are more commonly affected. Children are affected more often than adults, as they are often not yet used to hygiene measures such as regular hand washing, which means that the worms can penetrate the body more easily.

The worms enter the body as eggs or larvae, use humans as a source of food and reproduce. The eggs laid by the parasites are excreted by humans during bowel movements, which can lead to transmission of the parasites.


The most common cause of worm disease is eating food contaminated with worm eggs, known as smear infection .

Young children in particular become ill in this way because they put their hands in their mouths without washing them first. If they have previously come into contact with worm eggs, an infection occurs. A worm disease that is also common in adults is infection with tapeworms .

These parasites can enter the human body through undercooked pork or beef. A mostly neglected source of infection is eating wild berries and mushrooms in the forest. This allows dog or fox tapeworms to colonize the body.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The symptoms of worm infections depend on the type of worm. General complaints are expressed, among other things, by pressure in the upper abdomen or persistent slight abdominal pain , itching in the anal area, weight loss or anemia . Children are often infested with roundworms.

Above all, these produce an agonizing itching in the anal area, which encourages the children to constantly scratch. Infection with roundworms can cause flu-like symptoms such as cough and fever . In addition, abdominal pain occurs. Since the roundworms tend to form balls in the intestine, there is a risk of intestinal obstruction . The bile duct is also sometimes blocked, which can lead to biliary colic.

When infested with trichinae, the muscles are particularly affected. In addition to watery diarrhea, nausea , vomiting and fever , muscle pain , edema , myocarditis and rheumatic complaints are the main symptoms. Beef and pork tapeworms usually cause only minor symptoms. However, loss of appetite and cravings often alternate with each other.

There is weight loss. In rare cases, the tapeworms can also migrate to the pancreas or appendix and cause inflammation of the pancreas or appendicitis there. If humans ingest tapeworm eggs instead of Finns, larvae form first, which often cause additional symptoms such as eye diseases up to blindness, seizures or muscle problems. Dog and fox tapeworms can eventually completely destroy the liver by forming cysts .

Diagnosis & History

If the symptoms in a child suggest that it is suffering from a worm infection, there are various diagnostic methods. If the treating doctor suspects an infestation with the relatively harmless and easy to treat pinworms , he carries out the Tesa swab test.

He attaches an adhesive strip in the anus area of ​​​​the affected child and pulls it off again. He can then examine the strip and see if any worm eggs have stuck to it. Taking a medical history is also important. After the patient consultation, the doctor orders a stool sample, since in the case of a worm infection, parts of the worm or its eggs are excreted with the stool and can be detected there. A blood test can be carried out to determine the disease more precisely. In our latitudes, worm diseases can usually be treated effectively, which means that the prognosis is very good.


Worm diseases cause different symptoms and complications depending on the type of worm. Children often become infected with roundworms. Threadworms such as pinworms, roundworms or trichinae can be treated well. In some cases, however, complications can arise. Roundworms sometimes form balls in the intestine or in the bile duct, which can lead to an intestinal blockage.

Trichinella, in turn, often affect the intestines and muscles. If the muscles are affected, long-term chronic inflammation of the heart muscle and rheumatic complaints can develop. Inflammation of the myocardium often leads to cardiac insufficiency. Pork or beef tapeworms can also be treated well.

If humans become infected with the fins of these tapeworms through raw or half-cooked meat, they enter the intestine and cause the typical symptoms. In rare cases, however, individual tapeworm segments migrate into the pancreas or appendix and cause acute pancreatitis or appendicitis as a complication. When infected with pork tapeworm eggs rather than pork tapeworm fins, larvae develop which infect all organs of the body, sometimes causing blindness and seizures.

The most dangerous are the dog and fox tapeworms. They form cysts in the liver and sometimes in the lungs, which can lead to organ destruction, intestinal blockage, or allergic shock if the cyst ruptures. In addition, dog and fox tapeworms are very difficult to treat.

When should you go to the doctor?

Pain in the abdomen, a feeling of pressure in the upper abdomen and in the intestines, a loss of appetite or attacks of ravenous hunger are causes for concern. If the irregularities persist for several days or weeks and if they increase in intensity, a doctor’s consultation is necessary. If you experience itching, bleeding in the intestines or spotting, you should also consult a doctor. If movements are noticed in the chair when going to the toilet, this is considered a warning signal.

The observations should be discussed with a doctor so that medical tests can be carried out. Muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also considered to be conditions that need to be evaluated and treated. If constipation, behavioral problems or mood swings occur, a medical examination is required. In the case of fever, inner restlessness and irritability, the irregularities should be followed up.

If the person concerned suffers from seizures, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. A diagnosis is needed so that a treatment plan to alleviate the symptoms can be developed. If the person concerned suffers from an unpleasant feeling when moving or sitting, it is advisable to clarify the symptoms. Sleep disorders, tiredness and changes in the complexion are also signs of a health disorder. A doctor should be consulted if there is pale appearance or rings under the eyes.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of an infection with helminths is relatively simple by administering special medication. These are called anthelmintics ; it is an anti-worm agent. Anthelmintics ensure that worms in the body are killed and excreted.

Although anthelmintics are very effective in controlling parasitic worms, they can only be taken for a short period of time, otherwise a number of side effects can be expected. Also due to the side effects of these drugs, it is of great importance to diagnose a worm infection in time and initiate treatment.

The earlier the therapy can be started, the faster it works and the fewer side effects are to be expected. Surgical intervention in the case of a worm infection is only necessary in exceptional cases. Fox and dog tapeworms , if left undetected, can form cysts, which then need to be surgically removed. Except for infections with fox or dog tapeworm, worm diseases are easy and effective to treat and hardly lead to complications.


The best way to avoid worm disease is to lead a hygienic lifestyle. This includes washing your hands before eating. In addition, worm infection can be easily prevented by cooking meat sufficiently through. When traveling to tropical countries, the rule is to always wash fruit and vegetables or not to eat anything raw.

It is also advisable to avoid eating wild berries and to have pets dewormed regularly. Even small children should be made aware of the importance of simple hygiene measures such as washing hands.


Depending on the duration and severity of the disease, the intestines may have been affected. In aftercare, it is therefore important to pay particular attention to the body’s immune system and intestinal health. The use of probiotics has proven itself here. These are living microorganisms that are supposed to multiply in the intestine.

They are now offered as powders, capsules or drops and sold as dietary supplements or as medicines. Doctors who specialize in naturopathy and some naturopaths can give recommendations here. Fresh, high-fiber food also helps the intestines to regenerate from the worm infection. Too much fat and calories should be avoided during the aftercare period, as should too much stress.

High external pressure can have a negative effect on the intestinal flora. Outdoor exercise is recommended for full recovery. Long walks, hikes or even regular jogging get the circulation going and ensure better blood circulation – also in the intestines!

In the follow-up care of a worm infection, you should avoid using stimulants in order not to unnecessarily burden the body again. Smoking and alcohol should be avoided at least for a while. Instead, it is advisable to drink large quantities of still water in order to thoroughly flush out the excretory organs (kidneys, bladder).

You can do that yourself

In the case of worm infections, special hygienic measures must be taken. Clothing must be changed, washed and, if possible, disinfected. The same applies to bed linen or towels. The body should be washed regularly and should then be covered with clean and freshly washed clothing. All household textiles, including sofas and chairs, should be disinfected if possible.

The diseases are highly contagious, so people in the immediate social environment should be informed. Depending on the disease, various measures can be taken to support the healing process. The intake of onions or garlic cloves , for example, has proven itself. These can be eaten raw or increased when preparing meals. Crushed pumpkin seeds mixed with honey can be eaten in the morning before the first meal. A natural laxative can be taken about two hours later.

Foods that contain vitamin A help fight worm eggs. Therefore, carrots should be eaten more throughout the day. Consuming coconuts or coconut oil has also proven to be helpful. Both can be deliberately added to meals or eaten raw in small amounts. A natural laxative should be taken a few hours afterwards.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.