Children are more prone than adults to contracting roundworms. This condition commonly manifests by itching of the anus, abdominal discomfort and presence of worms in feces. Roundworm infection should be promptly treated to avoid various health problems. They may have especially devastating effect on health of children, resulting in malnutrition and growth hindrance.
Roundworms are known as Ascaris lumbricoides and they are commonly found in warm, moist, tropical countries. Roundwarms have rounded body with pointed ends and may reach 16 inches in length. They mostly live in the intestines of humans. Roundworm infection affects around 1 billion of people all over the world and it has been estimated that 55 million American children are infected with some type of worms among which roundworm are leading intestinal parasite.
Causes of Roundworms in Children
Humans can contract roundworms through contaminated food, water and soil. Children are at higher risk of getting infected with roundworms because they often play in dirt and than put their hands into the mouth. Children also often eat with dirty hands, which allow parasites to enter their body. Contact with infested pet can lead to roundworm infection as well. When enter the human body, roundworms live in the intestines where adult female can lay enormous number of eggs. These eggs can be passed out in the stools but they may survive in warm soil for up to seven years.
Signs and Symptoms of Roundworm Infection
Since roundworms live in the intestines, they take all important nutrients vital for kid’s growth and survival. This may cause weakness and fatigue in children. Another symptom that children experience is itching in the anal area which can be worsen early in the morning and at night. This itching is particularly intense when infected child is passing stool. Abdominal pain and discomfort also result from roundworms infection. Other signs and symptoms of the infection are allergic reactions, poor appetite and weight loss.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Roundworms in Children
Roundworms infection can be diagnosed with the help of a stool analysis that can be checked for presence of roundworms. Another way to diagnose the worm infection is to swab the anal area and review the specimen under a microscope. Finally, roundworm infection can be confirmed with an ultrasound test that can help to locate roundworms in the gut.
Treatment includes anti-itching cream and anti-helminthic medicine in the form of tablet or syrup. Malnourished children need to have a balanced diet that should include papaya juice with honey, prune juice, carrot juice and crushed pumpkin seeds mixed with water. Parasite infection can be prevented with good personal hygiene, eating thoroughly cooked foods, and avoiding pet feces, poor sanitation areas, and contaminated water supply.