Worms in Humans : Know the Reasons, Complications, & Treatment


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

Ascariasis, one of the most widespread worm diseases among humans, is rare in humans. People who are infected frequently have mild illnesses without any symptoms. However, a severe infestation might cause uncomfortable symptoms and problems.

Children most commonly get ascariasis in tropical and subtropical areas of the world, particularly in places with inadequate sanitation and hygiene.


Direct transmission of ascariasis is not possible. An individual must instead come into touch with water that is contaminated with ascariasis or soil that has ascariasis eggs 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 utilised as fertiliser because of inadequate hygienic conditions. Infection in humans can also be brought on by eating raw, infected pig or chicken liver.

Small 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 has also been shown to spread ascariasis eggs.

A worm's life cycle

Ingestion. Without contact with dirt, the small (microscopic) ascariasis eggs cannot spread the disease.

Through hand-to-mouth contact or by consuming uncooked fruits or vegetables that were cultivated in contaminated soil, people might unintentionally ingest 

Migration. The larvae emerge from the eggs in your small intestine, pass through the intestinal wall, and then move via the circulation or lymphatic system to reach the 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. Once within the intestines again, the parasites develop into either male or female worms. Female worms may grow to a length of more than 15 inches (40 centimetres) and a diameter of just about a quarter inch (6 millimetres). In general, male worms are 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 faeces. Before becoming infectious, the fertilised eggs must remain 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 for a year or more within your body.

How to check if you have Worms?

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

Risk Factors

Ascariasis risk factors include:

Age. The majority of ascariasis patients are 10 years old or younger. As they are more prone to play in the dirt, children in this age range may be at a higher risk.

A hot environment. It happens more frequently in developing nations with warm weather all year round.

Poor hygiene. In impoverished nations where human waste is left to interact with the soil, ascariasis is common.


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

Within the lungs

You swallow the tiny (microscopic) ascariasis eggs, which then hatch in the small intestine as the ascariasis larvae via the lymphatic or circulatory systems. You may now exhibit symptoms like those of asthma or pneumonia, such as:

  • Ongoing cough
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Wheezing

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

Internal organs

The small intestine is where the larvae develop into adult worms, and the adult worms usually reside in the intestines.

The intestinal infection might result in cases of mild or moderate ascariasis. The following symptoms can arise:

  • Strange stomach ache
  • Nausea and diarrhoea
  • Bloody stools or diarrhoea

The following conditions might occur if you have a lot of worms in your intestine:

  • Intense stomach discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of weight or undernutrition
  • Worms in your faeces or vomit


Ascariasis may be prevented most effectively with excellent cleanliness and common sense. 

Maintain proper hygiene. Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching any food. Fresh produce should be properly washed.

When travelling, take 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.


Ascariasis is often treated first with anti-parasite drugs. The majority are:

  • Ivermectin with albendazole (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 may be required to remove worms and restore whatever harm they have already done in situations of severe infestation. Appendicitis, bile duct obstruction, and intestinal blockage or holes are a few issues that could necessitate surgery.

Complications of Worms in Humans

Ascariasis complications are uncommon in mild instances. In the event of a severe infestation, the following issues might arise:

Slow growth. 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 block a section of your intestine in cases of severe ascariasis infection. Vomiting and severe stomach cramps may result from this. The obstruction may potentially result in internal bleeding (haemorrhage) or appendicitis by creating a hole in the intestinal wall or appendix.

Duct obstructions. In certain instances, worms may obstruct your liver's or pancreas's tiny channels, resulting in excruciating discomfort.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 21, 2023

Next review due: Mar 21, 2025

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