Intestinal worms grow in children who have ingested larva eggs, typically from exposure to soil or surfaces contaminated with human feces. Three common types of intestinal worm affecting children in the United States are pinworms, tapeworms and roundworms. Together, they make up a group of parasites called helminths. While none of the three conditions are usually fatal, it can lead to unpleasant side effects and affect your child's health and happiness.
Pinworm affects up to 50 percent of the U.S population, frequently affecting children under the age of 18. Because worms lay eggs around the anus at night, symptoms include insomnia and waking up in an irritable mood. General itching around the anus is common. Female children may also experience itching in the vaginal area. Both sexes may experience spells of nausea and abdominal pain.
Tapeworm infection comes in two forms -- intestinal and invasive. Children infected with intestinal tapeworm may not display any visible symptoms for some time. However, some children will show signs similar to other intestinal worm conditions, including nausea and abdominal pain. If your child has tapeworm they may also have decreased appetite. They may start to lose weight and become weaker over time. Diarrhea is another symptom to look out for, as well as segments of worm in the stool.
The roundworm Ascaris is the least common intestinal worm affecting children in the United States. Larvae enter the child's intestines, and may travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. Your child may cough or become short of breath with larvae in the lungs. Larvae return to the intestines and grow into worms, causing loss of appetite and stomach pain. Children may also lose weight and strength. It is sometimes possible to see worms in the nose, mouth or stool.