In heavy infestations, it's possible to find worms after you cough or vomit, and the worms can come out of other body openings, such as your mouth or nostrils. If this happens to you, take the worm to your doctor so that he or she can identify it and prescribe the proper treatment.
About two months after you ingest ascariasis eggs, the worms mature and begin laying thousands of eggs a day. These eggs travel through your digestive system and eventually can be found in your stool. To diagnose ascariasis, your doctor will examine your stool for the microscopic eggs and larvae. But eggs won't appear in stool until at least 40 days after you're infected. And if you're infected with only male worms, you won't have any eggs at all.
Your blood can be tested for the presence of an increased number of a certain type of white blood cell, called eosinophils. Ascariasis can elevate your eosinophils, but so can other types of health problems.
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- X-rays. If you're infested with a large number of worms, the mass of worms may be visible in an X-ray of your abdomen. In some cases, a chest X-ray can reveal the larvae in your lungs.
- Ultrasound. An ultrasound may show if any worms are in your pancreas or liver. This technology uses sound waves to create images of internal organs.
- CT scans or MRIs. Both types of tests create detailed images of your internal structures, which can help your doctor detect worms that are blocking ducts in your liver or pancreas. Computerized tomography (CT) combines X-ray images taken from many different angles, whereas magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
- Leder K, et al. Ascariasis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 17, 2012.
- 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.