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A day in the life of a patient suffering from helminths infection

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I never thought that I will have to surrender myself to tiny parasites. But this has happened! My life is reduced to taking rest, and medications, thanks to the infection I am suffering from. It started about 2 months back when I developed pain in abdomen with recurrent loose motions.

The blood and stool reports showed I was suffering from Soil-transmitted helminthiasis. Two months have already passed and I am still struggling with abdominal pain, diarrhea, and severe weakness. Here’s how my life has changed due to helminths infection

Waking up in the morning

I usually wake up with severe cramps in my abdomen. I have to rush to pass stools. I also have to get up at least once or twice in the night for passing stools. The doctor told me that these symptoms have occurred due to the parasitic infection caused by roundworms.

He told that the same infection may also occur due to the other parasites like whipworms, and hookworms.I try to get some sleep during the afternoon as I am not able to get enough sleep in the night. The doctor told me that the symptoms are comparatively severe in my case probably due to the higher worm burden.

Starting the day

Soil-transmitted helminthiases has also affected my lungs. I have developed a few complications as the parasites have migrated to my lungs. I had to be admitted to a hospital last month for pneumonia caused due to the same.
The doctor has asked me to take plenty of rest and drink lots of water. So, I try to get up a bit late to make up for the lost sleep during the night due to cough and loose motions.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

The doctor told me the only way these parasites could have entered my body was through the intake of contaminated food or water. So, I suppose I must blame myself for what I am suffering from. Had I taken proper hygienic precautions, I would have been able to live and enjoy my life like usual.

This infection has taught me the importance of eating healthy foods. I have stopped eating junk foods completely. I also wash my hands well with soap and water before eating my meals. I also drink about 2 to 3 liters of water every day to prevent dehydration due to repeated loose motions.

Going to work and taking the treatment

I had to take leave when I developed pneumonia. I had planned to resume my work after getting discharged from the hospital. However, I couldn’t! I have developed severe weakness, even I use to take my treatment as the doctor prescribed. My latest blood reports show a low hemoglobin level. This could be due to the loss of blood with stools. The doctor has advised me to avoid going to the office till I recover to the extent I can travel alone and work for the whole day without over-exhausting myself.

The doctor has prescribed me iron supplements to prevent anemia. He has also advised me to use Mebendazole and Albendazole. These are anthelmintic drugs I had to take for 3 days.
The doctor has assured me that the effect of these medicines lasts for several months. So, now I need not worry about the parasites. But, I deficiently have to take care to maintain my health to avoid the complications. I also have to take medicines to control the symptoms like cough, loose motions, and pain in the abdomen.

Prevention of complications

The doctor was worried due to the severity of the symptoms. He told me that in the cases of heavy worm burden like mine there is a risk of intestinal obstruction. The higher number of parasites may result in an obstruction in the intestine for which surgery is the only option. Luckily, I have not developed any such complication as of now.

However, this infection has caused another serious complication, rectal prolapse. The rectal muscles have become weak due to the repeated loose motions. The doctor has cautioned me that I might need to undergo surgery for correcting the prolapse. However, we will have to wait before going ahead with the same as my general health does not permit me to undergo the surgery at present.

What are the daily limitations and what are the fears?

Soil-transmitted helminthiases has affected my job performance. It may affect my career prospects negatively. I may not be able to resume my work for another month. But, I am not in a position to think about the consequences of the same at present. Currently, I am trying to cope with weakness, pneumonia, anemia, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. 

How does the future look like?

The symptoms of pneumonia have reduced now. But, the abdominal pain and weakness are still present. The weakness may remain for a month or so. Though I am taking proper precautions to eat healthy foods, I am not sure that this infection will not cause any other complication.

Additionally, I also have to undergo the surgery for rectal prolapse once I recover. Keeping in mind these problems, I don’t think I will feel normal like before for another 2 months.

What are the causes and the risk factors?

The major cause of soil-transmitted helminthiases is being exposed to the parasites through the consumption of unhygienic foods. That is why; the risk of this infection is higher in the people living in the overcrowded places under improper hygienic conditions.

The evolution of helminths diseases

I started experiencing the symptoms of soil-transmitted helminthiases about 2 months back. Over the last few weeks, I have developed a range of symptoms affecting multiple systems and organs in my body. It started with affecting my digestive tract and then, also affected my lungs. The doctor told me this infection can also affect the skin and cause rashes, and itching.

When it affects children, it can lead to malnutrition and worsen their nutritional status. The nutritional "knock on" effect of soil-transmitted helminthiases can cause a significant impact on the general health of a person and even lead to cognitive disability.

What are the psychological effects when you suffer from helminthiasis

Fear, anxieties, and frustrations! These are the feeling I am experiencing right now. I feel helpless when I think of the complications this disease can cause. There is hardly anything I can do. The course of anthelmintic medications is over. I hope the symptoms resolve faster. I am feeling very weak. I will not be able to bear if I develop more complications.

Topics: Soil-transmitted helminthiasis

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Written by Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy is a doctor having a clinical experience of more than 15 years. She has an expertise in treating acute and chronic diseases like obesity, IBS, asthma, arthritis, Autism, ADHD, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, allergies, cancer, infections, and skin diseases. She believes in treating the patients in a holistic manner. She aims at educating the patients about the illness and providing tips related to their lifestyle and diet to ensure a long-term relief from the disease and preventing its recurrence.