Symptoms of roundworm

A roundworm infection usually only produces symptoms if:

  • the number of roundworms present in your body increases dramatically (this is known as a heavy worm burden),
  • the worms move from your small intestine to your lungs (this is known as pulmonary ascariasis), or
  • the worms cause a blockage in your intestine.


Symptoms of a heavy worm burden

Symptoms of a heavy worm burden include:

  • weight loss,
  • tiredness,
  • abdominal pain,
  • diarrhoea, and
  • vomiting.

In some cases of heavy worm burden, you may pass an adult worm in your stools (faeces) or one will come out of your nose or mouth. An adult worm is a pale yellow/pink colour, has a long thin body, and can grow to up to 41cm (16 inches) in length.

Symptoms of pulmonary ascariasis

Symptoms of pulmonary ascariasis include:

  • dry cough,
  • chest pain, which can be aggravated by coughing,
  • shortness of breath,
  • wheezing,
  • producing blood stained mucus (phlegm), and
  • fever (rarely).


Symptoms of a blocked intestine

A blocked intestine can occur in people of any age but 85% of reported cases occur in children aged between 1-5 years. This may be because their intestines are smaller, so are more liable to become blocked.

Symptoms include:

  • a severe, sharp 'colicky' pain,
  • vomiting (the vomit may contain worms),
  • fever, and
  • diarrhoea.
Last updated: 04 October 2011

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