Roundworms can infest the human gut, where they live, feed and reproduce. They don't often cause any symptoms, but are more likely to in large numbers.

Aroundworm infection also sometimes known as ascariasis or ascaris is usually easy to treat.

Roundworms are parasites. They use the human body to stay alive, feed and reproduce.

Aroundworm infection doesn't usually cause any noticeable symptoms. People usually see their GP because they've seen a worm in their stools (faeces).

Less commonly, symptoms can include a high temperature and dry cough 4-16 days after swallowing the eggs.

If a large number of eggs have been ingested, or if the worms move from the small intestine to other parts of the body, they can cause serious complications, such as a bowel obstruction. However,in England, these types of complications are rare.

It's also possible for eggs to be transferredfrom your hands to your mouth after touching contaminated soil.

After the eggs mature into adult worms, the worms produce more eggs. The eggs are released from the body through the bowel, and can then infect other humans.

The more roundworms there areinside your body, the worse your symptoms are likely to be.

A roundworm infection can be diagnosed by examining a small sample of faeces under a microscope. Infection is confirmed by the presence of eggs or a worm in the sample.

Roundworm is a relatively rare conditionin the UK, so a stool sample will only be routinely taken if:

  • you experience non-specific gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting or Traveller's diarrhoea , and you've been abroad within the last two years to a region where roundworm is widespread, such as Africa or Asia
  • you pass a worm in your faeces; the worms have a distinct appearance, which standard laboratories can recognise
  • worms are detected during diagnostic tests

Treating a roundworm infection

Roundworm infections can usually be successfully treated with medication.

The three main medicines that are used to treat an infection are:

  • mebendazole
  • piperazine
  • albendazole

Read moreabout these medicines in treatinga roundworm infection .

Preventinga roundworm infection

Regularly washing yourhandscan help prevent the spread of a roundworm infection.

You should take additional precautions if you're travelling to a part of the world where roundworm is common, such as only drinking bottled water and avoiding raw fruit and vegetables.

These are the same precautions that help prevent many other infections associated with poor sanitation.

Read moreabout preventing roundworm infections .

The bowels are the part of the digestive system between the stomach and the anus thatdigest and absorb food and liquid.
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Jun 2016