The most effective treatment for a roundworm infection is an anthelmintic medication like pyrantel, medendazole, or albendazole. These medications kill the worms, allowing patients to express them from their bodies. Other treatments are available for severe complications of worm infections and some patients experience success with alternative medicines like wormwood, pumpkin seeds, and grapefruit seed extract that are designed to kill and expel the worms although these means have not been extensively tested and may not be safe in all patients.
Roundworms are parasites that people become infected with when they consume roundworm eggs. The most common reason to come into contact with eggs is to drink water contaminated with human fecal material or to eat produce handled by people with roundworms. When the eggs enter the body, the lifecycle of the roundworm starts. The eggs will hatch, producing worms that can colonize the intestines and lungs, the worms will breed, and more eggs will be produced and shed.
People with roundworms can develop coughs, pneumonia, bloody sputum, abdominal pain, rashes, and wheezing. Sometimes worms can be seen around the nose or anus and they are also present in the feces, along with eggs. People can be diagnosed with the use of medical imaging studies revealing worms inside the body, or analysis of a fecal sample to identify worms and eggs.
Treating people with medications designed to treat parasitic infections will usually resolve a roundworm infection. When used in animals, these drugs are known as dewormers, but in humans, the term “anthelmintic” is more commonly seen. It is important to be aware that both people and pets can develop roundworm infections and can pass them to each other. If a household has a roundworm problem, it is important to treat all of the mammals present, regardless of species.
A roundworm infection can have serious complications. Sometimes, people have large clusters of worms in their intestinal tract that will not be passed with medication. For these patients, surgery may be required to clear the gut. Surgical treatment is rarely needed and if it is, X-rays of the intestine usually indicate whether a patient will need surgery or not. The longer a roundworm infection is allowed to persist untreated, the greater the risk of complications like malnutrition or the development of the need for surgical treatment.
If people suspect they have parasitic infections such as a roundworm infection, a doctor should be consulted. It is important to receive a drug that is appropriate for the infection and many parasites cause similar symptoms. A doctor can perform a diagnosis and offer a prescription or advice on complementary and alternative medicine if these options are preferred by the patient. Likewise, veterinarians can examine animals with suspected parasitic infections and provide the appropriate medications.