Here is some food for thought. When did you last do deworming for yourself? The most probable answer may be that you cannot remember. And wait, deworming is for kids, right? This belief is the myth that most of us have been living with where deworming is concerned. However, the truth is that humans of all ages need deworming. More so if you have been experiencing some abdominal symptoms attributed to gastric issues. If these symptoms do not seem to relieve as expected and keep recurring, then maybe it’s time you checked for worms and got a deworming done. Let’s understand deworming and why everyone needs to do it periodically.
Deworming process refers to the killing and eliminating parasites or worms from our bodies through appropriate medication. Mostly, we follow this process judiciously for children till a specific age. However, we give up on it after the kids become teens. Children are more prone to worm infections because of nutrition deficiency and non-hygienic habits. However, adults can also be affected by worms.
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In children, deworming is commonly done at least twice a year. The worms absorb all the nutrients from their body, leading to malnutrition and affecting their growth. Pediatricians prescribe deworming medicines for consumption, and if the worms are present, they pass through the stools. The various worms that can infect us are pinworms, tapeworms, hookworms, flukes, trichinella, and threadworms. Even adults should deworm at least twice a year, and it is usually recommended for the family to do it simultaneously.
If worms infect, you may experience some of the symptoms mentioned below, though these symptoms can occur even due to other conditions.
- Abdominal pain or tenderness
- Rashes on the buttocks
- Rectal itching
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Frequent urination
- Blood in the stools
- Weight loss
Depending on the seriousness and duration of the symptoms, the doctor may suggest blood or fecal tests. If required, the doctor may also suggest colonoscopy or imaging tests. Based on the clinical and laboratory test results, the treatment differs. While mostly the doctor prescribes a simple deworming medicine, chances of some other medications to address any related infection issues also exist.
How to Prevent Worms?
Following basic personal hygiene, especially food and toilet hygiene, is crucial to avoid getting infected by worms. Some probable common causes of infections are:
- Walking barefoot on lawns
- Using unhygienic swimming pools
- Not washing veggies thoroughly before cooking
- Getting licked by your pets
- Eating uncooked meat
Hence, take proper care to avoid such activities. Please ensure you groom your pets and wash well if they lick you. Keep your nails trimmed properly, and follow hand hygiene as we have been doing since the pandemic broke.
You could include foods that can help in regular deworming such as papaya, garlic, pumpkin seeds, carrots, turmeric, coconut, etc. These help your body fight the worms. Medicinal deworming has to happen twice a year, irrespective of the infection.
Are They Harmful?
Apart from digestive issues, there are times when these worms can affect your lungs and liver. If they migrate to the brain, they can be dangerous and cause neurological issues. They may even travel to your eyes, causing vision issues. One of the reasons adults also should deworm is to ensure that the kids in the family do not get reinfected because of them. Kids are more prone to become sicker than adults. Adults may not realise they are infected, as the symptoms may not be so prominent as in kids, and people attribute it to gastric issues. Thus, even though you regularly deworm kids, it may not yield the desired results.
Deworming medicines are available over the counter in India without a prescription. However, you could always request the doctor to prescribe the same. Please ensure that all family members should take it at the same time to avoid re-infection and mark it in your calendar for the next dosage. Follow the advice of your doctor on dosage and consumption. Often, the suggestion is to take one dosage at night after food and then repeat the dosage after a week. Rarely, some people may experience some side effects, with the same symptoms of worm infection, after taking the tablets. Kindly ensure that you have no allergies to such medicines and consult a physician if you develop any severe symptoms.