Roundworms are parasites that can infect humans, especially children. Warm, tropical climates are more susceptible to roundworms than cold climates. Roundworms range in size and can be microscopic or visible to the naked eye. To prevent roundworm infection, make sure to wash your hands before eating or touching your mouth, wash your hands immediately after touching soil, wash and scrub produce, do not eat raw, undercooked meats, and stay away from pets infected by roundworms. There are several types of roundworm infections, each with a list of its own symptoms.
Ancylostomiasis is a hookworm infection that happens when roundworm larvae come in contact with the skin through soil or contaminated faeces. Through the skin, they invade the lungs and eventually make their way to the small intestine. Signs and symptoms include colic, cramps in the intestine, diarrhoea, nausea and slight abdominal pain. Hookworms may pass into the stool, but because they are very small, you may have to have your stool tested by a medical professional. However, do watch for blood in the stool as this is a sign of worms.
Anisakiasis is an anisakid roundworm infection caused by consuming raw or undercooked fish and seafood. Signs and symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal pain. If you suspect you have anisakiasis, look for white or yellow threadlike worms about three centimetres long accompanied by blood in the stool.
Ascariasis is a roundworm infection that is caused by eating foods that have been grown in contaminated soil. These larvae hatch in the body and can grow to the size of a pencil. Signs and symptoms include vomiting, presence of a worm in vomit or stool, severe abdominal pain and restlessness. After at least 40 days, eggs will appear in the stool. Thin grains of rice-like matter in the stool is a sign that roundworms are present.
Enterobiasis is a pinworm infection that is caused by eating or drinking foods that have been contaminated by faeces. Unfortunately, day care centres and schools can be highly susceptible and children can be carriers of the larvae. Most infected people have little to no symptoms, but itching of the anus or vagina may be present as the eggs will hatch there. Pinworms are white and are the easiest to identify in the stool as they can grow up to half an inch long.
Strongyloidiasis is a threadworm infection that is usually caused by walking barefoot on contaminated soil. The larvae enter the skin and eventually make their way to the throat and lungs. They are migrated to the intestines when the infected person coughs and swallows and will then continue to produce eggs. Signs and symptoms include burning pain in the abdomen, anaemia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and weight loss. Threadworms in the stool resemble white, thin cotton threads. Mucus in the stool is also a sign of threadworm infection.
Trichinosis is a roundworm infection that can be contracted by eating undercooked meat. The larvae make their way to the small intestines and eventually live in the muscle cells. Signs and symptoms include slight stomachache, joint aches and sore muscles. These worms may be passed through the stool alive. Roundworms are thin, white or yellow and can grow up to 15 inches long.