Roundworm Infection: Sometimes Sharing ISN’T Nice

The parasite Roundworm is common around the world, especially in warmer climates. I see them often here in the southern US, where the ground doesn’t normally freeze in the winter.

Roundworm infection usually begins with ingestion of the eggs, from contaminated soil, or from fruits or vegetables grown in contaminated soil.

Some species enter the skin through microscopic fissures, or cracks, in the feet or hands. This is how they can get into the bloodstream to begin their life cycle in their unknowingly generous host.

People with immune problems like HIV or cancer should always wear gloves when gardening, and not go barefoot outdoors.

Ascaris Roundworm

Ascaris Roundworm Adult Female

Depending on the species, roundworms can grow (in the intestines) to be as big as a pencil. One mature worm can release as many as 200,000 eggs a day into the host’s system.

Intestinal parasites tend to steal your best nutrition and leave you with their wastes to clean up. They can release proteins that are foreign to your system, causing allergic reactions to develop.

Symptoms (allergies, anemia, asthma, digestive disturbance, teeth-grinding, gas, restlessness, snoring, temporary weight gain) seem worse around the full moon.

Children are especially prone to roundworm infection. Their immune systems aren’t fully developed, and hygiene is probably not perfect, especially when no grown-ups are around.

Kids are going to scratch and pick, when and where it itches, and they’ll put practically anything in their mouth that will fit (at least the little ones).

I once had a client who was a medical doctor. She was having problems sleeping, and through interviewing her, I realized it was really her small child who was waking her up in the night.

It was happening every night around the same time, and the child was inconsolable- shrieking and crying until finally worn out, then going back to sleep.

I suggested the possibility of pinworms, knowing her children went to the park twice a week to play in the sandbox, and pinworms being most active in the wee hours.

She was horrified and absolutely aghast (I don’t often get to use that word, but it’s a perfect description of her reaction). She believed there was no way her very clean and proper children could have such an infection: only people in third-world countries get parasites!

My client put up with sleepless nights for another couple of months, finally writing a prescription for her child’s worm treatment (I would have preferred using the gentler herbal or homeopathic method, but she didn’t tell me until after the fact. Besides, we do live in a Free-Will Zone).

A little sheepish, she told me everyone was sleeping again.

The moral of the story? Don’t go into shame; it’s counter-productive. Just take care of the problem.
The poor child in the story above could have been “misery-free” two months sooner, if the mother had been willing to look at “probable cause” and not been so embarrassed.

Once the roundworm eggs have made their way to the blood stream, either directly or through the digestive tract, they pass through and may lodge in various organs. Eventually, they end up in the lungs where they develop into a thread-like stage. The lungs become irritated, and phlegm is coughed up.

If this mucus is swallowed, the “threads” will be able to complete their cycle back in the intestines, mature, and lay eggs that will be passed out of the body in the feces. The roundworm parasites that attach themselves to the intestinal wall can devastate the host’s health.

Anemia, skin eruptions, and malnutrition lead the way to listlessness, mental slowness, and weakness. Toxocara, the intestinal roundworm found in cats and dogs, can even lodge in the retina of the eye, causing inflammation and blindness.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in the southeastern United States, there was an affliction known as “white trash disease.”

Poor people (who couldn’t afford shoes) living (because of ignorance or necessity) in unsanitary conditions, were grossly infected with hookworm. It was not understood at the time, but some bright person figured out that people who spit didn’t seem to get as afflicted.

So, spittoons became stylish.

Spitting is no longer trendy in our society, and having more facts now, my suggestion would be to get rid of the dang worms!

A parasite cleanse is not all that difficult. I try to do one once a year, for prevention and maintenance (I live in the south in a rural area; I swim in the river; I have pets; I share this acreage with all manner of wild creatures).

Ancyclostoma – more common in animals than humans, these parasites burrow into the skin, causing “creeping eruption.”

Ascaris – can “nest” (looks like great wads of spaghetti when they are passed) especially in bowel pockets (diverticuli). Associated with asthma, migraine headaches, some seizure disorders.

Dog Heartworm – becoming increasingly common in humans, primarily transmitted by mosquitoes. Poor circulation, persistent or chronic cough, chest pain, and fatigue are common symptoms.

Hookworm – The only worms with “teeth,” hookworms are usually acquired by going barefoot. Associated with herpes and often with HIV, they can steal up to a 1/2 cup of blood a day, causing anemia. Other symptoms include abdominal pain with nausea, creeping skin eruptions, diarrhea, gas, indigestion, listlessness, low blood count, malnutrition, weakness, mentally slow.

Pinworm – The most common roundworm in the US, they cause irritation, itching, and/or pain around the anus. Most often found in children, pinworms have lightweight eggs that are easily airborne and can stay viable for weeks on sheets, clothing, walls, and carpeting. This makes them very contagious; all family (household) members and even playmates should be treated.

Strongyloides – Similar to hookworm, often associated with migraines and asthma. Suppressed immune systems can allow heavy “auto-infection.”

Toxocara – the roundworm found in most puppies and kittens. Wash hands thoroughly after playing with pets; don’t allow pets to lick your face. Toxocara can lodge in various organs, so are responsible for a variety of symptoms, including convulsions, joint or muscle pains, fever, liver or lung problems, skin rashes, and vomiting.

Trichinosis – a carnivore’s disease, trichinella parasite cysts are usually ingested in undercooked meat, primarily pork. If you are going to eat pork, make sure it’s cooked ’til no pink is left (170° F). Microwaves are not necessarily effective at killing these cysts. The larvae burrow out of the intestines to the bloodstream, then into the soft tissues and muscle fibers. Here, they can cause stiffness and pain, laryngitis with cough or sniffles, diarrhea and intestinal pain, fever, swelling (edema) around the eyes and face, water retention, and symptoms of a low-grade infection or food poisoning. Other symptoms: brain and eye damage, brain swelling (encephalitis), kidney damage, and complex diseases like fibromyalgia.

Vein Worm – Typically carried by pets, these parasites are implicated in various blood vessel disorders, including varicose veins. They are also associated with brain disorders, pain in the back of the neck, brain, and/or brain stem, depression, Candida overgrowth, heart issues, and immune system problems.

Whipworm– These parasite eggs develop in the small intestine, then travel to the large intestine to mature. A mild infection may show abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, weight loss, nervousness, or insomnia. A severe infection will cause damage to the intestinal wall, perhaps appendicitis or prolapse and edema of the rectum. Also associated with allergies, migraine headache, snoring, and sinus problems.

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