Most people infected with ascariasis have no symptoms. Moderate to heavy infestations cause symptoms that may vary, depending on which part of your body is affected.
In the lungs
After you ingest the microscopic ascariasis eggs, they hatch in your small intestine and the larvae migrate through your bloodstream or lymphatic system into your lungs. At this stage, you may experience signs and symptoms similar to asthma or pneumonia, including:
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
After spending six to 10 days in the lungs, the larvae travel to your throat, where you cough them up and then swallow them.
In the intestines
The larvae mature into adult worms in your small intestine, and the adult worms typically live in the intestines until they die. In mild or moderate ascariasis, the intestinal infestation can cause:
- Vague abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or bloody stools
If you have a heavy intestinal infestation — a large number of worms — you may experience:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- A worm in vomit or stool
When to see a doctor
Consult your doctor if you have persistent abdominal pain, diarrhea or nausea.
May. 25, 2012
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- Weller PF, et al. Pulmonary manifestations of ascariasis. http://uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- BBB -— Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FoodborneIllness/FoodborneIllnessFoodbornePathogensNaturalToxins/BadBugBook/ucm070828.htm. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Ascaris infection (Ascariasis). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/ascaris/factsht_ascaris.htm. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- Ascariasis. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..00010-0--sc0290&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&sid=1259356096&uniqId=314473516-3#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..00010-0--sc0290. Accessed Jan. 26, 2012.
- Dold C, et al. Ascaris and ascariasis. Microbes and Infection. 2011;13:632.