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- Symptoms Of Worms In Kids
- How Do Children Get Worms?
- Dangers of Worms in Children
- Diagnosis And Treatment For Worms
- Home Remedies For Deworming A Child
- Tips to Prevent Worms in Children
- Important FAQs
When six-year-old Johnny complained of tummy ache in the morning, Emily thought he was just cooking up an excuse to skip school. Johnny is back from school and still complains of a tummy ache. Emily realizes she has a cause for concern when she finds Johnny’s favorite PB&J sandwich untouched in his lunch bag. A visit to the doctor’s that evening reveals that Johnny had worms in his intestine.
Intestinal worms in children are common and can spread the infection quickly. Therefore, deworming kids as soon as you notice the symptoms is necessary. MomJunction tells you how children get worms, how you can identify the symptoms and deworm the child.
What is Deworming?
Deworming is a process that involves the use of medication to remove an infestation of worms in the intestine. The treatment aims at eliminating the worms and removing any infection that causes discomfort in the patient.
Intestinal worms can be easily removed by regularly deworming a child. If the worms are not removed, they can multiply by laying eggs in the intestine and can cause severe damage to the body. If neglected, intestinal parasites can also be fatal to the host.
[ Read: Symptoms Of Tapeworm In Child ]
Symptoms Of Worms In Kids
One of the dangers of intestinal worms is that the symptoms are subtle, and can be overlooked by parents. Children are vulnerable to catching intestinal worms and may show the following signs and symptoms when they do.
- A sore tummy: your child may complain of a tummy ache.
- Loss of appetite: Your child may lose his appetite and go on bouts of hunger strikes.
- Weight loss.
- Always feeling hungry.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Anemia is common if the child has hookworms.
- Rash (usually hives), itching in the anal region, especially around the anus through which the worms have entered. This is typically in the case of pinworms and threadworms.
- Blood in the stool and diarrhea, although it is rare.
- Irritability and trouble in sleeping, due to discomfort caused by itchiness.
- Frequent urination, painful urination.
- Constant coughing.
How Do Children Get Worms?
Children are more vulnerable than adults to intestinal worms. They may unwittingly allow the worms to enter their bodies through a simple act of walking barefoot on the grass. Other ways in which your kids can catch these worms are:
- The infected soil is the most common cause of worms in children. Soil that is damp and wet is breeding ground for various worms including helminths parasites that enter the human body.
- Unhygienic surroundings and habits such as not washing hands after defecation can cause intestinal worms.
- Contaminated water.
- Undercooked food and fruits or vegetables infected with worms, raw or undercooked meat, especially pork, may have worms that can infest even the brain.
- From infected animals, pets with ticks and worms, cattle and fish that live in the same premises as the child.
- Children can also acquire worms from other kids and adults, if they are unhygienic. Worm eggs can live under fingernails, and can be easily passed on to another person if not washed off.
Dangers of Worms in Children
Children are more at risk of getting infected by worms. If left untreated, the worms can spread the infection throughout the body. The worms are parasites which feed off the host’s body and eventually result in malnutrition, affecting the healthy growth of the child.
Intestinal worms also multiply within the body by laying eggs, which cannot be easily removed by medicines. So it is important to get your child dewormed frequently, at least once every six months. Talk to your doctor to get a better understanding of the dosage and the frequency of deworming.
Diagnosing Worms In Kids
Tummy ache, tiredness, and diarrhea can be symptoms of other illnesses as well. To make sure that they are signs of worms in the child, your doctor may conduct a few tests and exams.
- The Sticky Tape Test is a standard exam that your doctor may perform to check for worms in the kid. In this, a piece of tape is stuck to the child’s bottom, to collect the worm eggs, if any. The tape is sent to the laboratory for testing to determine the existence of worms.
- Worms leave eggs under fingernails so the doctor could check them for signs.
- Stool examination can also reveal the existence of worms in the intestines.
- An ultrasound may be recommended in case of severe worm infestation.
Treatment For Worms In Children
The treatment for worm infections varies on the type of worm that has infested the intestines. Your doctor may give anthelmintic drugs that are available in the form of syrup for toddlers and tablets for older kids. Some of the commonly used medicines for worms in children include:
- Mebendazole is used to treat a variety of worm infections in children.
- Pyrantel is another safe deworming medicine for kids that your doctor may prescribe.
- For older kids, you can try a safe and reputed worm medicine like Reese’s Pinworm medicine.
- Zentel 400mg worming medicine can be prescribed to kids over two years of age.
- Zentel Suspension is a deworming syrup for kids aged under two years.
The deworming tablets for kids usually kill the parasites without causing any damage to the host, in this case, your child. The treatment period is typically short, and lasts not more than a few days. Sometimes, a single dose of Mebendazole is enough to rid the child of worms.
Avoid relying on over-the-counter worm medicine for kids as they may not be suitable for toddlers and young kids. Always visit the doctor and follow the dosage and treatment regimen to rid the child of worms. Even better, choose to deworm your children as a precaution to prevent any infestation at all.
[ Read: Ringworm Treatment For Kids ]
Home Remedies For Deworming A Child
Along with medications, natural remedies can help ease the discomfort that your child may be going through due to worm infection in the body. These may not necessarily cure the child of worms, but they can aid the treatment and prevent infections.
1. Garlic is a natural dewormer for kids. It is known to be an effective remedy against parasitical worms. Raw garlic has amino acids containing sulfur, which can kill parasites and rid them from the body.
- Eating three cloves of raw garlic on an empty stomach can help flush out intestinal worms.
- Drink milk, boiled with two crushed garlic pods, every day.
2. Unripe Papaya has an enzyme called papain, which acts as an anthelmintic to destroy the worms in the intestine. Also, papaya seeds are used to expel worms from the stomach.
- Ground the papaya seeds and mix a tablespoon of that in warm milk or water. Get your child to drink it first thing in the morning, for three days in a row.
- Mix one tablespoon of raw papaya and one tablespoon of honey in warm milk or water. Drinking this on an empty stomach helps remove intestinal worms.
3. Carom seeds are rich in thymol, which helps in preventing the growth of intestinal worms. The seeds work well in eliminating these parasites when combined with jaggery.
- Start the day by eating a small piece of jaggery, or one teaspoon of powdered jaggery on an empty stomach.
- After 15 minutes, eat a quarter spoon of crushed carom seeds with water.
Repeat the routine for 15 days to flush out any worms.
4. Pumpkin Seeds can help in removing intestinal parasites, according to a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center (1). The seeds have cucurbitacin, a compound than can paralyze the pests and prevent them from surviving in the body.
- Eat a spoonful or roasted pumpkin seeds with a spoonful of honey.
- Boil a spoonful of peeled and crushed pumpkin seeds in three cups of water. Let it steep for half an hour. Drink it once it cools down.
5. Bitter gourd can also help fight the worms in the tummy. Mix a cup of bitter gourd juice with water and honey and give it to the child at least twice a day.
6. Indian Lilac or Neem has anti-parasitical properties and can destroy different intestinal worms.
- Mix powdered neem leaves in warm milk and honey and drink it twice a week.
- Roast neem leaves in clarified butter and eat it with rice or bread.
- Mix half teaspoon of neem leaf paste in a glass of warm water and drink it on an empty stomach every day for a week. Do this every alternate week until the worms are gone.
7. Carrots have vitamin A, which helps in boosting the child’s immunity and enabling him to fight any intestinal parasites before they get a hold of the body. Eating carrots on an empty stomach can help in clearing the worms.
[ Read: Carrots For Kids ]
8. Turmeric is an internal antiseptic and helps in eliminating all kinds of intestinal worms. Drink a glass of warm water mixed with one spoon of turmeric once every day, for five days. You can also add turmeric to buttermilk and take it for a week to destroy intestinal worms.
9. Coconut has very strong anti-parasitic properties that make it effective in treating worms. You can use the fruit or its oil to eradicate the worms.
- Let your child eat a tablespoon of grated coconut each day with breakfast. Continue this home remedy for a week to see results.
- Extra virgin coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides that will help remove the worms from your child’s body. Let your child have four to six teapoons of coconut oil each morning for a week. It will also boost your child’s immunity and prevent a worm infestation from recurring.
10. Cloves not only destroy existing intestinal worms and their eggs, but can also prevent any future infestations.
- Add a teaspoon of cloves to a cup of hot water and let it steep for 20 minutes.
- Drink this water three times a week to stay free of worms.
These remedies can help alleviate the infection, but may not cure it completely. They are not a replacement for prescription medications.
[ Read: Fruits And Vegetables For Kids ]
6 Tips to Prevent Worms in Children
Kids who play in the dirt, sand, grass, and other open areas are likely to get worms someway or the other. While worms can be easily eliminated through deworming, it is best to prevent worm infections as far as possible. Here are a few tips that can limit the chances of intestinal worms in kids.
- Wash the fruits and vegetable thoroughly before using them. Check them for any worm infestations before using. Do not eat the fruit or vegetable, even if only a part of it is infested.
- Do not eat unwashed salads, semi-cooked vegetables or meat.
- Avoid eating raw meats, especially pork and fish which are known to have worms in them.
- Do not let the kids play barefoot in the grass, mud, or other outdoor areas.
- Drink boiled water every time, avoid drinking from public tanks unless you are certain it is safe.
- Use swimming pools that do meet the hygiene requirements.
These precautions may not eliminate the chance of your kid getting worms, but only minimize it.
[ Read: Personal Hygiene For Kids ]
1. My child keeps getting worms. What should I do?
Regular deworming is necessary to prevent recurrence of intestinal worms in kids. Talk to your doctor about regular treatment to get rid of the parasites.
2. How often should I deworm my child?
If the prevalence of helminth infections transmitted by soil is over 20 percent, the treatment should be given once a year. If it is more than 50%, then the treatment should be given twice a year, as recommended by the WHO (2).
3. Can babies get worms?
Yes. Babies, regardless of the age, can get worms. Deworming is essential to prevent and eliminate worm infections in the intestines.
4. Is there a specific age for deworming? Who should be dewormed?
Deworming is essential for preschool children, children going to school, and even women of child-bearing age. Pregnant women may also have to get themselves dewormed in the second and third trimesters, and during breastfeeding once the baby is born.
5. What do worms in children look like?
Pinworms are the most common ones in kids. These worms look like a quarter-inch dental floss and are visible to the naked eye. You can see these tiny worms wiggling in stool and the anus.
6. Are there any side effects of deworming children?
In general, worming medicines are well tolerated by children and have no side effects. Sometimes, there may be mild side effects of deworming medications including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headache for a short period.
The worms that your little one catches could be big and visible to the naked eye, or microscopic. Regardless, they have the potential to create irreparable damage if neglected. Watch out for the symptoms listed here and make sure your child gets dewormed as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the lesser you have to worry.
Want to share how you dealt with intestinal worms in your child? Tell us about it in the comments section.
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