One of the worst consequences of bringing up the children in unhygienic conditions is intestinal worms. Intestinal worms are not a possibility when a baby is breastfed up to 6 months right from its birth. Also, it is not a possibility up to one year when the baby is under constant monitoring from its mother. But things start to take a bad turn when the babies start to play on its own, expose themselves to unhygienic conditions, consume foods with dirty hands. Due to these reasons, many kids are affected by intestinal worms.

What are the different types of Intestinal Worms?

There are different types of intestinal worms that affect both children and adults. Some of the common ones are Tapeworm, Threadworm, Hookworm, Whipworm, and roundworm. These worms mostly affect children over adults. These worms differ in their shapes and sizes, and it can potentially bring about many health problems.

Tapeworms can lead to vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, gastric problem, loss of appetite, weight loss, malnutrition, and jaundice.

Threadworms can bring about insomnia and urinary infections.

When the impact of hookworms reaches its peak, it can lead to cough, breathing problems, anemia, and tiredness. Hookworms lay its eggs around the anus region. This creates an itchy sensation in the area. When kids place their hands in there and use the same hands to consume the foods, operate the TV remote control, use mobile phones etc.. it will start to spread to the other person who uses these and operates these objects. This can lead to greater complications if the kids take these fingers to their mouth.

What are the other types of damages done by these worms?

Worms that live as parasites inside children stomach will absorb all the nutrients in their foods, and make them more vulnerable to diseases. A single hookworm consumes around 0.2 ml of blood a day. Tapeworm can consume around 0-1 ml of blood a day. Hookworms have teeth so they can directly bite the intestines and drink blood from the wounds it creates.

These worms can potentially multiply in thousands. So you can just imagine the damage it can cause. Children who are affected by these worms not only become anemic, they will lose their memory, concentration and focus on studies. These worms can be detected through X-rays and ultrasound tests. It is due to this reason children lose their interest in foods and go through many health problems.

How do these worms reach the intestines of children?

Worms that are expelled through fecal matter of humans and animals get mixed with the sand and remains there. When kids touch these sand by accident while playing and keep their hands in the mouth without washing their hands, these worms will slowly reach their intestines. Hookworms are capable of reach to our stomach by piercing through the skin surface. So it is better to advise the children to use their slippers and footwear all the time while playing outside.

When a person becomes a victim of ringworm without any apparent reason which has very itchy sensation, then there is a high probability that it could be due to hookworm. Apart from these reasons consuming meat without fully cooking it, eating vegetables and fruits without washing it thoroughly, drinking unhygienic water are some of the other ways through which these worms enter our body. Unhygienic living conditions also play a major role for the presence of intestinal worms in our body.

What are the treatments for this problem?

According to a report from World Health Organisation, nearly 22 million children in India aged between 1 and 14 years are affected by intestinal worms. When it affects children between the age group of 3 to 7 years old, it is easily treatable. Governments should provide appropriate vaccinations for children every year to fight this problem. Local health centers should provide Albendazole tablets at free of cost for all the children in their locality. One to two-year-old kids should consume 200 mg of the tablet, while people belonging to age group between 2 to 19 year old should consume 400 mg of the tablet.

Some health centers might prescribe Albendazole along with some other tablet in combination. As this can lead to many side effects this practice should be avoided. Some kids may have vomiting sensation and may even vomit after taking Albendazole tablet. The main reason for this could be the taste and smell of this drug. So there is no need to panic in case of its occurrence.

Can Intestinal worm infections be prevented?

  • Yes, it can easily be prevented by following hygienic lifestyle, this includes
  • It is a must to wash your hands with soap or hand wash after using the toilet and before having your food.
  • Always wash the toys and things used by kids. If necessary you can sterilize them.
  • Wet places are more prone to infections. So always advise your kids to wear their footwear while playing in wet zones.
  • Once a week cut the fingernails of your children.
  • Train them to use the restroom in the most hygienic way possible.
  • Do not let the kids use slippers or any footwear inside the home.
  • Always keep the spoon in a separate box while packing lunch for your kids.
  • No matter where ever they go to play, train them to use their footwear where ever they go.

Further Reading:

  1. How to Stop a Child From Eating Sand
  2. Effective Ways to Prevent Kidney Problems in Children

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