Roundworm Causes, Prevention, Symptoms And Treatment


A roundworm illness is called ascariasis. By exploiting your body as a host, these parasitic worms grow from eggs or larvae to adult worms. Mature worms may grow to a length of more than a foot (30 cm), and they can breed.

Ascariasis is one of the most prevalent worm diseases in humans globally. Most infected individuals have mild infections with no symptoms. Yet, a severe infestation might cause uncomfortable symptoms and problems.

Children in tropical and subtropical areas of the world are most frequently affected by ascariasis, particularly in places with inadequate sanitation and hygiene.


Ascariasis does not transmit directly from one person to another. Instead, a person must come into touch with water that is contaminated with ascariasis eggs or soil that has been combined with pig or human excrement. In certain underdeveloped nations, human excrement is mixed with the soil in yards, ditches, and fields, or it is utilized as fertilizer because of inadequate hygienic conditions. Uncooked pig or chicken liver that has been contaminated can also cause it in humans.

Young children frequently play in the dirt, and if they put their dirty fingers in their mouths, it might cause an illness. Unwashed produce cultivated in polluted soil might potentially spread ascariasis eggs.

A worm's life cycle

Ingestion. The tiny (microscopic) ascariasis eggs cannot propagate the illness without coming into touch with dirt.

Via hand-to-mouth contact or by consuming uncooked fruits or vegetables that were cultivated in contaminated soil, people might unintentionally ingest (swallow) contaminated soil.

Migration. The larvae break through the intestinal wall of your small intestine, emerge from the eggs there, and then travel through the circulatory or lymphatic systems to your heart and lungs. The larvae enter your airway and go up your throat, where they are coughed up and ingested, after growing for around 10 to 14 days in your lungs.

Maturation. The parasites develop into either male or female worms once they are back in the intestines. Female worms may grow to a length of more than 15 inches (40 centimeters) and a diameter of just about a quarter inch (6 millimeters). Male worms are often smaller.

 Reproduction. If there are both male and female worms in the intestines, female worms can create 200,000 eggs every day, and the eggs exit your body in feces. Before becoming infectious, the fertilized eggs must be in the soil for at least two to four weeks.

From egg intake to egg deposition, the entire process takes two to three months. Worms that cause ascariasis can survive within your body for a year or more.

How to check if you have Roundworm?

If you have frequent stomach discomfort, diarrhoea, or nausea, consult your doctor.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for ascariasis include:

Age. Ascariasis most frequently affects youngsters 10 years of age or younger. Because they frequently play in the dirt, children in this age group may be at a higher risk.

A warm environment. Ascariasis is more prevalent in the Southeast of the United States. Yet, it happens more frequently in developing nations with warm weather all year round.

A lack of cleanliness. In impoverished nations where human waste is let to interact with the soil, ascariasis is common.


Ascariasis often causes no symptoms or indicators in its victims. Depending on whatever region of your body is afflicted, moderate to severe infestations produce a variety of indications or symptoms.

In the lungs

The ascariasis larvae move via the circulation of the lymphatic system and hatch in the small intestine after you consume the tiny (microscopic) ascariasis eggs. You may now exhibit symptoms and indications like those of asthma or pneumonia, such as:

  • Persistent cough
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • The larvae leave the lungs after 10 to 14 days and go to the throat, where you cough them up and ingest them.

In the intestines

  • The larvae develop into adult worms in the small intestine, and the adult worms usually reside in the intestines.
  • The intestinal infection might result in cases of mild or moderate ascariasis.
  • Stomach ache
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Bloody stools or diarrhoea

You could have:

  • Severe stomach discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of weight or undernutrition
  • A worm in your faeces or vomit


Good cleanliness and common sense are the strongest weapons against ascariasis. To prevent infection, heed these advice:

Maintain good hygiene. Before handling food, always wash your hands with soap and water. Thoroughly wash any fresh produce.

When traveling, exercise caution. Avoid eating raw veggies unless you can peel and wash them, and only use bottled water.


Usually, only infections that result in symptoms require treatment. Ascariasis can sometimes go away on its own.


The primary line of treatment for ascariasis is anti-parasite drugs. The most frequent are:

  • Albendazole (Albenza)
  •  Ivermectin (Stromectol)
  • Mebendazole

The mature worms are killed by these drugs when administered for one to three days. Mild diarrhoea or stomach ache are examples of side effects.

Pyrantel pamoate is safe for use during pregnancy.

Surgery. In situations of severe infestation, surgery may be required to remove worms and restore whatever harm they have already done. Appendicitis, bile duct obstruction, and intestinal blockage or holes are consequences that can necessitate surgery.

Complications of Roundworm

Ascariasis complications are uncommon in mild instances. If you have a severe infestation, the following issues might arise:

Slowed expansion. Children with ascariasis have the danger of not obtaining enough nutrients, which can delay growth, due to loss of appetite and poor digestion of consumed meals.

Obstruction and perforation of the abdomen. A large number of worms might obstruct a section of your intestine in cases of severe ascariasis infection. Vomiting and severe stomach cramps may result from this. Internal bleeding (haemorrhage) or appendicitis might result from the obstruction creating a hole in the intestinal wall or appendix.

Duct obstructions. Worms can occasionally obstruct the tiny channels of your liver or pancreas, resulting in excruciating discomfort.

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Page last reviewed: Jul 12, 2023

Next review due: Jul 12, 2025

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