Zainab Sarfraz


Ascariasis is the most common infection of the small intestine which is caused by Ascaris lumbricoides. It is the specie of the parasitic roundworm. If it is present in small amount, no symptoms can be seen. Symptoms increase by the increase in the number of worms which can lead to serious problem in the lungs or intestines of human due to heavy infestations. This disease is more common in places which lack modern sanitation techniques and developing countries. The person can become infected with Ascariasis after accidentally ingesting the eggs of roundworm. People take or eat the eggs which can be found in soil contaminated by human faeces, through improperly cooked food, contaminated fruit and vegetables and impure water.

Most children become infected when they put their hands in their mouth after playing with contaminated soil. After ingestion, they reproduce inside the intestine of children, then swallowed eggs first hatch in the intestine. Then larvae move through your bloodstream towards the lungs where they mature. After maturing they leave the lung and travel to your throat. You may either cough up or swallow up in your throat which ultimately travels back to your intestine. In the intestine, male and female roundworms mate and lay more eggs which increase the number of worms in your intestine. This type of cycle continues, some eggs are excreted out through faeces. Others may hatch and return to your lung.

Ascaris eggs can survive potentially for 15 years and the single worm can produce 200,000 eggs a day. They maintain their position in a liquid medium by swimming against the intestinal flow. As larval stages travel through the body; they may cause damage to the organs such as enlargement of the liver or spleen, inflammation of the lungs and respiratory illness. Larval roundworms cause infection and show their symptoms in4-16 days.  Worms occasionally cause intestinal blockage where a mass of worms block the intestine of the patient causing severe pain and vomiting. Intestinal blockage needs medical treatment and mostly surgery is performing in case of emergency. Duct blockages occur when worms block the small passageways lead to your liver and pancreas.

Roundworms are found worldwide but it is more common in places with poor sanitation infrastructure and lack of modern hygiene, where farmer use human faeces for fertilizer, exposure to an environment where dirt might be ingested. At the beginning of this disease, Worms in lungs can cause shortness of breath, blood in mucus, chest discomfort, coughing and fever occur. Later symptoms, roundworms in the intestine can cause abdominal swelling, abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, intestinal blockage and diarrhea appear. Children are mostly affected and in that age, the infection may also cause poor weight gain, malnutrition, learning problem.

By avoiding unsafe or uncooked food, impure water, by improving sanitation system by using clean toilets and proper disposal of faeces you may protect yourself from exposure to the roundworm. Infection that leads to the loss of appetite and poor absorption of nutrients put children at risk and can affect their growth.

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