Roundworms. The mere thought gives people the shivers. Roundworms can be found in animals and humans. These little buggers seem to prefer living in the gastrointestinal tracts, although they sometimes are found in the lungs. People should know that roundworms are contagious and that anyone who has been diagnosed needs to take precautions to prevent their spread to family members or friends. There are many different kinds of roundworms, unfortunately, including Ascariasis, the hookworm, the threadworm and the whipworm. They all affect children or adults and more than 1 billion people around the world every year. Understanding the symptoms of roundworms will help people identify them and seek treatment before spread occurs.
In most situations, children are diagnosed with roundworms far more often than adults, mostly because children are less particular about washing their hands and keeping their fingers away from the mouth, eyes and other oral cavities. Roundworms are commonly found in boys and girls and from toddlers to older children. Roundworms are more common in areas where human faeces are used as ground fertiliser or in unclean and crowded living environments.
Several different types of roundworms are commonly identified, including some that are easily visible with the naked eye and others that require the use of a microscope. Eggs of roundworms generally enter the body through contaminated objects such as food, water and dirty fingers and hands. In some cases, roundworms have been known to enter the body through the skin, but most often the eggs are ingested.
Signs and symptoms of roundworms in children or adults may be mild or obvious. In many situations, a person may be more irritable than usual and complain of a loss of appetite or frequent fatigue. On the other end of the spectrum, many children seem incessantly restless and complain that they can't sleep. Weight loss or inability to gain weight also are prime factors in diagnosing roundworms, as are abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea. In some cases, roundworms can be seen in the stool or even in a child's bed. Depending on the type of worm, blood may be found in the stool, and people may experience coughs, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, blurred vision, anaemia and swollen lymph nodes.
It's important to teach children to wash their hands after playing in the dirt and to prevent the youngsters from putting dirty fingers or hands into the mouth, or rubbing eyes with soil-caked fingers. In some cases, roundworms are transmitted through animals, so make sure dogs, cats and other furry pets are treated with preventive measures against roundworms, which can cause illness and death in animals.
For individuals diagnosed with roundworms, anthelmintics are often prescribed. These drugs kill roundworms and induce the body to expel them. Keep bedding, clothing and personal objects of the infected person clean and separated from others until treatments have been completed.