Worm infestation is a common health hazard that has disrupted many a life and on the surface, deworming may look like a non-threatening affair, but a lack of it can actually be fatal for you.
Medical practitioners have advised that it is vital for humans to deworm themselves at least once a year. Adults need deworming because there is a mild chance of parasites getting into the body orally either as a result of poor hygiene or food that is not cooked properly. It is true that adults are just as prone as kids to get infected by parasites.
It is mostly our daily, unhygienic habits that lead to worm infestation like walking barefoot on the lawn, eating with unclean/unwashed hands, drinking untreated water or milk, cooking unwashed vegetables, swimming in a pool with untreated water, or a small lick from a pet; all of these can lead to worm infection.
What is deworming?
Deworming is the process of expelling intestinal worms or parasitic worms that from the body by taking an anthelmintic medicine/drug. To put it in lay man’s terms, it is the process of killing the worms that have found their way into your body through the use of medicines specially made for this process.
Why is deworming so important?
Often times, people associate deworming with children but in reality, even adults are at a high risk of getting intestinal worms if they don’t practice good hygiene. Studies have revealed that intestinal infections as a result of worms can be more dangerous in adults than in children, particularly if such adult is suffering from amoeba-related infections as they can develop into severe liver and brain complications.
It is also important to know that parasitic worms can lead to malnutrition, deterioration of adult productivity and can affect cognitive progress thereby reducing literacy.
Who should deworm?
Every human is at risk of getting worm infestation and is supposed to deworm as often as possible. Deworming is particularly needed for toddlers and small children as well as grown-ups with poor body or food hygiene due to poor living conditions or unclean habits, people handling pets or raw meat and persons who walk barefoot.
While deworming among children has gained attention worldwide but deworming among adults remains an unnoticed issue. Studies, however, show that deworming should be carried out among adults too, from time to time.
These worm infections are observed to be more common where people are surrounded by poor sewage disposal, inadequate water treatment and poor food sanitation.
Some ways humans can get parasitic worms include:
- Lick from one’s pet
- Walking barefoot
- Swimming in a pool with untreated water.
- Not washing hands before and after meals or before preparing food
- Under-cooked meat/food
- Accidental swallowing/ ingestion of eggs, larvae, cysts or adult worms living in food, drink, soil and faeces
Common symptoms of intestinal worms are:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
- Redness or rash on the buttocks
- Urinating frequently
- Weight loss
- Tiredness, weakness or hunger due to worms.
- Abdominal pain or tenderness
- Blood in the stool
Types of worms cause intestinal infections
Tapeworm, roundworm and hookworms are the major types of worms that infest the walls of the stomach. These worms which usually gets into the stomach through food, starts taking the nutrition from our bodies and may migrate to lungs, brain, eyes etc.
Your medical practitioner or a Gastroenterologists may recommend several different tests to help them diagnose intestinal worms. These tests may include:
- Fecal tests to check for signs of infection
- Blood tests to detect some types of parasite
- Colonoscopy, which uses a thin camera to check the bowel for parasites
- Imaging tests to check other organs for signs of damage from the parasite
- Tape tests – A tape test involves placing a piece of tape over the anus as the person sleeps to check for signs of eggs.
- Checking Fingernails – As your hands are the primary mode of transferring worms inside the body through ingestion, worms often leave their eggs under the fingernails. Your gastroenterologist will examine the area under your fingernails to determine the presence of worms.
Preventive measures for worm infection
Basic sanitation and clean personal hygiene is the most important way to prevent worm infection. It is important to wash your hands both before and after using the toilet to avoid possible exposure, washing hands before cooking or handling food is also essential.
Many intestinal worms enter the body through the food that a person eats. As a result, it is essential to follow some safe food and general cleanliness practices. The following things should also be avoided:
- Do not defecate in the open, always use a toilet
- Disinfect your toilet seat regularly
- Cook meat properly before eating
- Always wash your hands properly with water and soap before eating & after using the toilet
- Always trim your nails and keep them short & clean
- Always wear slippers or shoes while using the toilet or walking to anywhere
- Never leave food uncovered
- Always drink filtered or bottled water
- Do not ever eat raw vegetables and fruits without washing them with clean water
Basic home remedies for worm infection
It is important to see a doctor if you notice any of the above named symptoms of worm infection. However, here are some quick home remedies that may be helpful:
- Garlic – Raw garlic is charged with amino acids containing sulphur, which act as natural deworm for children by killing parasites and expelling them out of your body for good. The smell is often offensive when eaten raw but it’s medicinal properties are very potent.
- Pumpkin seeds – are rich in cucurbitacin, which can paralyze worms and make it impossible for them to survive inside the body.
- Raw Papaya is known for its medicinal properties due to an enzyme Papain found in it. This enzyme works as an anthelmintic which kills intestinal worms whereas papaya seeds help to expel worms out of the body.
- Carrots – are rich in Vitamin A, known for immune-boosting properties which help your body to fight against intestinal worms.
- Turmeric is famous for its medicinal and antiseptic properties for long. It helps to eliminate parasitic worms from your body and also in healing internally.
- Coconuts are rich in lauric acid, which forms into monolaurin, a compound known for enhancing immunity. A strong immune system helps your body ward off or eradicate parasitic worms from your body.
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