Not just for pets: Here's why humans, too, could do with some deworming
While there are several programmes in place to promote deworming in children, not enough awareness has been created for deworming in adults.
Did you know that deworming should be started as soon as your child turns one, or that it is as important for adults as it is for kids? Although the term is familiar mostly because of our furry friends, deworming is just as important in humans as it is for pets.
Yes, adults need deworming too. While there are several programmes in place to promote deworming in children, not enough awareness has been created for deworming in adults.
The National Health Mission of the Indian government has been observing National Deworming Day on the 10th day of both February and August since 2015. The biannual programme provides deworming medication to children between one and 19 years of age, and in February this year, they administered deworming medication to 22.12 crore children in the country.
Here are a few things you need to know about deworming in humans:
How do we get worms inside us?
Daily, unhygienic habits lead to worm infestation: walking barefoot in the lawn, eating with dirty hands, drinking untreated water or milk, cooking unwashed vegetables, swimming in a pool of untreated water or even a small lick from a stray animal could lead to worm infection.
The common types of worms that infect adults and children include threadworm, roundworm, whipworm, tapeworm and hookworm. The eggs of a pinworm or threadworm are microscopically small (can’t be seen with the naked eye) and can be transmitted through the air.
Risks associated with worms:
- These intestinal worms affect the performance and growth of the child.
- Children and adults with intestinal worms may suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting or sensation of abdominal bloating.
- They may get allergic reactions like dry cough or rashes.
- If these worms migrate to the lungs, they can lead to persistent coughing and pneumonia.
- A person could lose consciousness and suffer from serious neurological problems if these worms migrate to the brain.
- These worms are also potent in forming cysts in the liver and lungs.
Why is deworming necessary in adults?
For a long time, people thought that deworming is only necessary for children and not for adults. But numerous studies have shown that adults also need deworming as they may act as a source of infection to kids.
A journal published in the Neglected Tropical Disease column of the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in August 2015 stated that treating children alone does not significantly impact the level of transmission, as the children get reinfected after treatment because of the reservoir in adults.
Another study published in the European journal Tropical Medicine and International Health in 2013 stated that hookworm infection rates increase significantly with age, so adults need deworming to deal with the infection.
The deworming regime in children
Children could be given a preventive dose of deworming medicine once or twice a year to reduce the worm burden of soil-transmitted helminth infection (caused by different species of roundworms). Medications that are commonly used are albendazole (400 mg) or mebendazole (500 mg).
This medication can be given to children between 1-14 years, especially to those living in areas where chances of getting any soil-transmitted infection are 20% or more among children.
Half a dose of albendazole (200mg) is recommended for children younger than 24 months.
Adults and pregnant women
Adults and pregnant women are given a single dose of albendazole (400mg) or mebendazole (500mg) in order to prevent parasitic infection, especially in regions where the prevalence of hookworm and T. trichiura (whipworm) is more than 20%.
Deworming medication can be given to pregnant women after the first trimester. The medication could be given twice a year in regions where the prevalence of parasites is more than 50 per cent.
For more information, read our article on Infections: Symptoms, causes, treatment, medicine, prevention and diagnosis.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India's first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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