What is hookworm, symptoms, life cycle and treatment

Hookworm, also called hookworm and popularly known as yellowing, is an intestinal parasitosis that can be caused by  Ancylostoma duodenale or  Necator americanus and that leads to the appearance of some signs and symptoms, such as skin irritation, diarrhea and pain in the belly, besides it can cause anemia. 

The disease can be transmitted through the penetration of the parasite through the skin, when walking barefoot on contaminated soil, especially in countries with hot and humid climates. After entering the body, the parasite easily reaches the bloodstream and spreads to other organs, resulting in signs and symptoms of infection that can be serious when the disease is not identified and treated correctly.

Hookworm treatment is done with antiparasitic remedies such as Albendazole according to the doctor’s recommendation, and it is also very important to adopt measures to prevent infection, such as avoiding walking barefoot and having good hygiene habits, such as always washing your hands.

Main symptoms

The initial symptom of hookworm is the presence of a small, itchy red lesion at the site of entry of the parasite. As the parasite gains blood and spreads to other organs, other signs and symptoms appear, the main ones being:

  • Cough;
  • Breathing with noise;
  • Bellyache;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss;
  • Weakness;
  • Excessive tiredness;
  • Dark and smelly stools;
  • Fever;
  • Anemia and pallor.

It is important that the doctor is consulted as soon as signs and symptoms of hookworm are verified, as this way it is possible to make the diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment, preventing the progression of the disease and the appearance of complications.

Life Cycle of Hookworm

Hookworm transmission occurs as follows:

  1. The larva of the parasite penetrates through the skin, at which time small skin lesions, itching and redness may appear;
  2. The larvae reach the bloodstream, migrating through the body and reaching the lungs and pulmonary alveoli;
  3. The larvae also migrate through the trachea and epiglottis, are swallowed and reach the stomach and then the intestine;
  4. In the intestine, the larva undergoes a maturation and differentiation process in adult male and female worms, with reproduction and formation of eggs, which are eliminated in the feces;
  5. In humid soils, especially in tropical locations, eggs hatch, releasing the larvae into the soil, which develop into their infectious forms and can infect more people.

People living in rural areas are more likely to be infected due to constant contact with the ground when walking barefoot, or due to lack of basic sanitation in the region.

To avoid infection by the parasites responsible for hookworm, it is important to avoid having direct contact with the soil, without the proper protections, and to avoid walking barefoot, since the parasites normally enter the body through small wounds present on the foot.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for hookworm has the objective of promoting the elimination of the parasite, relieving symptoms and treating anemia. Usually, the doctor starts treatment with iron supplements, in order to treat anemia, and, once the levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin are more normalized, treatment with antiparasitic drugs, such as Albendazole and Mebendazole, is started. should be used in accordance with medical advice.

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