Worms are parasites that live and thrive on the human and other bodies. Intestinal Parasites feed off from hosts and can be broadly classified into 2 major groups:
Protozoans: Protozoa are single cell organisms causing many diseases like Amebiasis, Giardiasis, Trichomoniasis,Sleeping Sickness,Dysentery and Malaria.
Helminths or Parasitic Worms: This kind of parasite infects the host through contaminated food, infected uncooked food, unhygienic handling of food or by skin contact with larvae.
Threadworms or pinworms: Thin tiny pinworm thrives in the intestine. They thrive due to poor hygiene. Contact with contaminated objects passes the infection through the eggs that enter through the mouth and thrive in the gut. Contact with cat or dog feces can lead to thread worm infection. Notice them in the early morning stools.
Round Worms: These roundworms can move to eyes and lungs and cause swelling in different body organs. They cause upper abdominal discomfort, insomnia, rashes and eye pain. If left untreated, roundworm infection can lead to appendicitis, loss of appetite and peritonitis.
Tape Worms: These tapeworms are like flat ribbons and can become encrusted in the brain and skin.
Hook Worms: Hookworms burrow into the intestinal walls and feed on the blood. Typical symptoms of hookworm infection are iron deficiency, protein deficiency, stunted growth and delayed puberty.
Pin Worms: Pinworms suppress the immune system and cause problems such as irritation around the anus or vagina, digestive problems and irritability.
Symptoms of worms or parasites infection are:
Anti-parasitic medications are prescribed for threadworms. Increased hygiene is of utmost importance. Washing of hands regularly; especially after using the restroom is vital. Keep fingernails short. Bathe daily and wear clean clothes. Keep the toilet seat disinfected.
Elephantiasis, also termed as Lymphatic filariasis, is a tropical disease that causes abnormal enlargement of body parts associated with pain and severe disability of the affected area. Elephantiasis is caused by parasitic worms that include Wuchereria Bancrofti, Brugia malayi and B. timori which are transmitted to humans via female mosquitoes. The infected mosquito injects the worm larvae into the person's blood stream. The worm spreads to the lymphatic system and blocks lymphatic drainage, leading to fluid build-up in the affected body part. Accumulation of fluids results in extreme swelling of that area. The disease normally affects the lower extremities, but it may also affect the male and female genital organs, breasts and groin area. Elephantiasis is most commonly found in African nations.
Symptoms of Elephantiasis
Inflammation and swelling is the most obvious symptom of elephantiasis. Ulceration and thickening of the skin around the affected region is another common symptom of this medical condition. Other than these symptoms, Elephantiasis may also produce following symptoms:
3. Pain in or above testicles
4. Enlarged groin lymph nodes
5. White urinary discharge
6. Swollen liver
7. Swollen spleen
Diagnosis of Elephantiasis
Elephantiasis is easily identified by a physical exam but, definitive diagnosis is done by examining the presence of microfilariae in a blood (blood is always collected at night) smear by microscopic examination.
Treatment of Elephantiasis
Diethylcarbamazine or DEC is a common drug that is administered to erase the microfilariae from blood. DEC works on the larvae but is not very effective on adult worms. Hence series of courses of DEC treatment stretching over a long time period may be required to rid the patient of the parasites. Along with DEC, another drug called Ivermectin is also used in some hospitals to treat elephantiasis. Though a rare option, surgery may also be performed to remove the fatty and fibrous tissue. However surgery is resorted as a last option as it is highly complicated and results are not very encouraging.
Other than addressing the infection, symptomatic treatment is undertaken to relieve the patient of discomfort. Pressure bandages are wrapped around the swollen limb and elastic stockings are also advised to reduce the pressure. Patient is also educated on few exercises and elevation techniques to combat swelling. Massage of the affected area is also recommended to facilitate smooth lymph flow.
Prevention of Elephantiasis
Elephantiasis is best managed by adopting few preventive measures. DEC can be administered preventively, to the whole of the community or region that is prone to elephantiasis. This kind of mass treatment reduces the number of carrier insects in a particular area. Effective mosquito control and clearing the areas of stagnant water is also important step towards the prevention of elephantiasis.
Acarophobia refers to fear of mites and small worms and insects. It also involves excessive fear of itching. A panic attack caused due to acarophobia is likely to cause dread and irregular heartbeat. Acarophobia can lead to excessive sweating and anxiety. This could be traced to an experience in the past or a phobia created in the subconscious.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: March 18, 2019