Mercy Hospital & Health Services Contact Us
MyChart
About Mercy
Join Our Team
set font size large set font size medium set font size small
email this page print this page
Health Illustrated Encyclopedia Banner
Health Illustrated Encyclopedia

Disclaimer:
Our Health Information Database is provided by A.D.A.M. the leading provider of electronic and printed information for professionals and consumers in healthcare and industry. It provides authoritative, reliable content written and reviewed by an editorial board who represent a variety of specialty areas. This board reviews and evaluates all healthcare information to ensure it is accurate, reliable, and can be used with complete confidence. And now you have access to the same authoritative, trusted clinical information relied upon by health professionals around the world.
Ascariasis

Definition

Ascariasis is infection with the parasitic roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides.

Alternative Names

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Ascariasis is caused by consuming food or drink contaminated with roundworm eggs. Ascariasis is the most common intestinal worm infection. It is found in association with poor personal hygiene, poor sanitation, and in places where human feces are used as fertilizer.

Once consumed, the eggs hatch and release immature roundworms called larvae within the intestine. The larvae then move through the bloodstream to the lungs, exit up through the large airways of the lungs, and are swallowed back into the stomach and intestines.

During movement through the lungs the larvae may produce an uncommon form of pneumonia called eosinophilic pneumonia. Once they are back in the intestines, the larvae mature into adult roundworms. Adult worms live in the intestine where they lay eggs that are present in feces.

It is estimated that 1 billion people are infected worldwide. Ascariasis occurs in people of all ages, though children are affected more severely than adults.

Symptoms

Most of the time, there are no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include:

Signs and tests

The infected person may show signs of malnutrition. Tests to diagnose this condition include:

Treatment

Treatment includes medications that paralyze or kill intestinal parasitic worms, such as albendazole or mebendazole. If there is a blockage of the intestine caused by a large number of worms, endoscopy or, rarely, surgery may be needed.

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

Most people recover from symptoms of the infection, even without treatment, although they may continue to carry the worms in their body.

Complications may be caused by adult worms that move to certain organs or multiply and cause a blockage in the intestine.

Complications

  • Liver secretion (biliary tract) obstruction
  • Blockage in the intestine
  • Hole (perforation) in the gut

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of ascariasis, particularly if you have traveled to a high-risk area. Also call if symptoms get worse, do not improve with treatment, or if new symptoms occur.

Prevention

Improved sanitation and hygiene in developing countries will reduce the risk in those areas. In areas where this disorder is common, routine or preventive (prophylactic) treatment with deworming medications may be advised.

References

Kazura JW. Nematode infections. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 378.
View Spanish Version

Encyclopedia Home
Drug Note Home
Health Information Home

Images

Care Points
    Read More

    Review Date: 12/3/2008

    Review By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

    www.adam.com
    www.mercyweb.org
    follow us online
    facebook youtube


    Contact us
    Home  |  Sitemap

    Disclaimer & Terms of Use  |  Privacy Statement  |  Notice of Privacy Practices
    Copyright ©2013 Mercy. Last modified 2/16/2011