Deworming 101

Deworming is the removal of worms in a person’s intestines by taking medicine. Infections from various worms are common and easily spread. However, it is difficult to know how widespread these infections are because they are often asymptomatic and often not seen right away.

Importance of Deworming

Children need to be dewormed because they are at high risk of developing worm infections. Some of the ways for the parasite to enter their bodies are through:

• Walking barefoot

o If the ground or lawn is trampled on is infected with any type of worms, this moist environment is possibly a place where parasites lay eggs.

• Contaminated water

o It may be by drinking water from sources that are not guaranteed to be clean from intestinal worms. This also includes floodwaters and wells.

• Food

o One can get infected with worms through unclean and uncooked food that comes in contact with dirty fingers or flies, or contaminated fields or fluids.

• Infected animals

o Pets such as dogs, cattle, chickens, and even fish are carriers of helminth infections.

• Poor hygiene

o By not washing hands before and after eating or after defecating, parasites can be contracted especially if the child comes out of the toilet. The eggs of the worms’ crawl on the sides and bottom of the nails and, as a result, tend to pass them on to playmates and other people.

What are the symptoms of a child with stomach worms?

Often, a worm infection shows no symptoms, or the symptoms can be very small and gradual before they are noticed. Depending on the type of worm and the severity of the infection, a child with worms may have some common signs or symptoms. If your child has any of these, take him or her to the doctor right away:

• Abdominal pain

• Weight loss

• Poisoning

• Anemia

• No appetite

• Itching or pain around the buttocks

• Low IQ

• Cough

If left untreated, worms can cause malnutrition and affect a child’s learning. Aside from noticing the initial symptoms of a worm-borne infection, it can help if children undergo a check-up. A pediatrician or specialist can diagnose helminth infection using the following methods:

• Stool exam

o Take a sample of the child’s stool to find out if he or she has worms in his or her intestines.

• Checking nails

o Signs of parasite presence in the body can be seen on the bottom and sides of the nails because they often leave eggs in such parts.

• Sticky tape test

o The doctor will place a piece of tape on the child’s stool to get worm eggs, if any. After that, the laboratory will examine the tape to see if the child has worms in the body.

• Ultrasound

o For severe cases of infection due to worms, this requires more in -depth observation. There is a chance that the parasites have spread to other parts of the organs such as the lungs and stomach, due to non-immediate purging.Depending on the type of worm infection your child has, there are anthelmintic drugs or anti-worm medications that a doctor may prescribe to prevent the spread of worms. It has syrup and pills suitable for the age of children. Some of these are: Pyrantel, Zentel, Mebendazole.

Albendazole or Mebendazole – these medications are generally safe for children to take. Adverse reactions are rare, often due to dead worms in the person’s body. If ever this reaction happens, it is often minor (ex: headache, nausea, and abdominal discomfort) and can be safely managed at home with rest.

Deworming twice yearly is advocated for children (from 1 year-old) even if they are well. Children can easily be infected and re-infected. Aside from killing the worms, the medications can also get rid of the eggs, which puts a break in the helminth cycle spread.

Eradicating parasitism and intestinal worms will have a great impact on the general wellness and nutrition of children.

Check regularly with your child’s Pediatrician, so you can be guided appropriately in deworming your kids.