Last updated: 04 October 2011
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,
- abdominal pain,
- diarrhoea, and
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,
- 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.
- a severe, sharp 'colicky' pain,
- vomiting (the vomit may contain worms),
- fever, and
Continue to next section: Causes of roundworm