The roundworm, scientific name Ascaris lumbricoides, is an elongated parasite having a rounded body and pointed ends. Though many of the related species are free-living worms, some of them infest the intestinal tract of humans and animals as parasites. It is estimated that 55 million children in United States are infected with some kind of worm, out of which roundworm is a major intestinal parasite. Roundworms should not be taken lightly. If left untreated, the worms may cause severe health ailments in children.
The main routes for infection of roundworms in humans are contaminated foods and polluted water. An adult female roundworm living in the intestine lays more than 25 million eggs in her lifetime. This is a huge number, considering the fact there may be many more worms that proliferate in the intestinal tract. While some eggs are retained in the infesting site, most of them are expelled in the feces. In warm soils and under favorable conditions, the eggs can survive to about 7 years. From contaminated soils and infected pets, roundworms make their way to foods and drinking water.
Even though adults are also prone to roundworm infection, children are at a higher risk of getting infected with this parasite. This is because, they play in lawns and outdoor places, and have the habit of ingesting foods without washing their hands. And the outcome is a roundworm infection. After being infected, the worms thrive in the intestines and absorb essential nutrients from the food, thereby limiting nutrients supply to the body cells and tissues. As a consequence, the child experiences weakness and fatigue signs.
The most noticeable sign is itching around the anal region, especially in the morning and nighttime. While passing bowel movements, the worms travel to the lower portion of the body and the infected child experiences intense itching on the outer side of the anus. Other symptoms are abdominal pain and discomfort. Over a period of time, the child will manifest nutrient deficiency, unexplained weight loss and malnutrition symptoms. In rare cases, excess multiplication causes accumulation of worms in a ball-like manner in the child's abdomen.
If a child is malnourished despite having a well balanced diet, it is best to get him/her examined by a doctor. Chances are high that the child is infected by roundworms. For diagnosis, the doctor will perform a stool analysis to check for presence of eggs and live roundworms in the stool sample. A simple way to identify roundworm infection is swabbing that anal region and viewing the sample under a microscope. Also, ultrasound imaging test may be done to locate roundworms in the intestinal tract.
Speaking about the treatment of roundworms in children, the doctor may recommend an anti-helminthic medication in specific dosage. As per usage convenience, it can be taken in tablet form or liquid syrup. In case, the kid is having itching signs, an anti-itch cream may also be prescribed by the doctor. Along with therapeutic intervention, maintaining hygiene, washing clothes with disinfectants and avoiding intake of contaminated foods are instructed to get effective results.
At home, treatment methods are serving papaya juice with honey, prune juice, carrot juice and crushed pumpkin seeds mixed with water. Applying diluted wormwood oil is also an effective remedy to get rid of roundworms in children. Majority of the roundworm-related health conditions are associated with poor sanitation, lack of personal hygiene and contaminated water supply. Thus, in order to minimize infection of roundworms, it is best to teach kids about basic personal hygiene and cleanliness.
Those who are residing in warm climatic conditions are more susceptible to roundworm infection than others. So, responsible parents should educate their kids about the risk factors and preventive measures for roundworm infection. After all, prevention is always a better alternative than cure, isn't it?