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    White Specks in Stool: How to Get Rid of Worms in Humans

    Updated 30 November 2021 |
    Published 17 December 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
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    Wondering if those white specks in your stool are parasites? Although it’s possible (tapeworms and pinworms are both white and small in appearance), worms can also be completely invisible to the naked eye. Having a parasitic worm infection can cause a variety of symptoms, some of which are more obvious than others. Read on to find out how to tell if you have worms in your stool.

    How to tell if you have worms in your stool

    Worms are a type of intestinal parasite that can live in humans, and parasites are organisms that feed off their host, causing health problems. You can get worms from contaminated drinking water or food, bug bites, or exposure to feces. They can also be caused by poor hygiene or sanitation. Identifying worms involves looking for parasite symptoms, which include:

    Some worms, such as tapeworms, can also cause an allergic reaction, including bumps or lumps, along with fever and, in rare cases, neurological issues like seizures. It is also very possible to have intestinal parasites with no symptoms at all. Your symptoms may also be quite mild. Whether or not you have symptoms, if infected with parasites, you are still a carrier who can infect others.

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    Types of worms in humans

    Although parasites in humans include a wide variety of worms, some of the most common are flatworms, roundworms, and hookworms. These are not always visible, although a doctor can often detect eggs in a stool test.

    Tapeworms

    One of the more common intestinal parasites in humans, tapeworms or Cestodes are found in areas with poor access to clean water and around farms, near livestock. They can also be found in contaminated water or raw or undercooked meat. Pork in particular is a potential source for tapeworms (specifically, Taenia solium). 

    One of the more common intestinal parasites in humans, tapeworms or Cestodes are found in areas with poor access to clean water and around farms, near livestock.

    White, long, and ribbon-like in appearance, tapeworms, once ingested, embed themselves in the intestinal wall or muscles — this is called cysticercosis. If the tapeworms embed themselves in brain tissue it’s called neurocysticercosis. As you eat, the worm uses the nutrients from your food to grow. Tapeworm eggs then enter your bloodstream and hatch inside tissues. Older parts eventually fall off, exiting via bowel movements.

    Tapeworms have a long life span, living in humans for up to 30 years and growing up to 80 feet in length.

    Pinworms

    Also called threadworms, pinworms are  tiny roundworms (nematodes). They’re the most common type of worm infection in the United States. Children are especially vulnerable. White, thin, and short (the length of a staple), pinworms are spread from feces to the mouth. Pinworm eggs can live on a variety of surfaces including bathroom furniture, linens, and toys for as long as 3 weeks.

    The pinworm, once ingested, makes its home in the rectum and colon area. At nighttime, the female pinworm comes outside the anus to lay her eggs, which are microscopic in size. If you scratch the area, the eggs then travel to whatever is touched next. They are so tiny, in fact, that they can become airborne and are easily inhaled. Pinworms are frequently passed between children and among adults in institutions like nursing homes. 

    Although they aren’t pleasant to think about, most cases of pinworms are minor and can be easily treated. However, they can sometimes cause infections in the uterus or the vagina. According to one study, in rare cases, they can cause acute appendicitis. It’s important to note that the study also found that symptoms of a parasitic infection may be the same as those of acute appendicitis, even if the person doesn’t have appendicitis.  

    Flukes

    Flukes, or trematodes, are another type of flatworm, but they’re more likely to affect animals than people. Up to a few inches long, flukes can be ingested in contaminated water and by eating certain freshwater plants. Like other parasitic worms, this worm can take up residence in the lungs, liver, or blood, depending on the species.

    Trichinosis worms

    Although trichinosis worms are most commonly passed among animals, people can come in contact with them by eating undercooked meat that contains larvae. Once inside the body, the larvae stay in the intestines, where they grow and reproduce. After the worms have begun reproducing, they can travel to other parts of the body, including the muscles and other tissues.

    Hookworms

    These tiny worms, also called Necator americanus, can be found in contaminated soil and fecal matter, which are the main sources of infection in people. For instance, the larvae (which can break through the skin) can gain access to your body if you walk on contaminated soil. Like trichinosis worms, hookworms attach to your intestinal wall. They can cause microcytic anem