WORMS: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Tapeworm
Tapeworm - courtesy: foxnews.com

Worm infestation is a serious worldwide health problem, but it is found much more frequently in the third world countries. The worms that infect humans are usually of three types: roundworms, tapeworms, and flukes. In the most parts of the world, roundworms or tapeworms are the most frequent, and these may range in length from less than an inch up to fifteen or twenty feet.


Types of worms

The most common worms in the roundworm family are: pinworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworm. 

Pinworms

Pinworms - are tiny parasitic worms that infect the large intestine of humans. Found mostly in children. At night the female pinworms pass to the anal region and lay their eggs. This causes severe itching, and the eggs can be transmitted to the mouth when the hands become contaminated, either by scratching around the anal area or by coming in contact with the pinworms eggs on contaminated bed clothes. More than one member of the family may be contaminated. It is important that during treatment, all underclothes and bed clothes be changed and sterilized daily. 

Whipworm and roundworm

Whipworm and roundworm infection can be prevented by proper disposal of human waste. 

Hookworm

Hookworm disease is contracted by walking barefoot on contaminated soil. Prevention of this disease depends on proper sanitary disposal of human feces and wearing shoes.

Tapeworm

Tapeworm infestation is acquired by the ingestion of eggs or larvae in uncooked meat. To prevent infection with tapeworm it is necessary that all beef, pork, and fish be thoroughly cooked before eating.

How do I prevent a tapeworm infection?

Since most people get it from raw or undercooked meat, the best advice is to really be sure you’re fully cooking meat, the CDC says. If you’re cooking whole cuts of beef or pork, use a food thermometer to check that the temperature reaches at least 145° F (63° C) for whole cuts and 160° F for ground meat.

Symptoms 

Many persons infected with worms have few if any symptoms. With a heavy infection of the worms, anemia or weakness may develop. Trichinosis, which is acquired by eating improperly cooked pork, frequently causes muscle pains; the worms may also lodge in the heart, brain, or eyes. Abdominal pain and diarrhea may be present. Children are frequently restless during the night with gritting of the teeth, a dry cough, and a slight fever. Occasionally worms may cause convulsions.

Diagnosis

Occasionally, with heavy infections, the thin adult threadworms may be seen on the surface of freshly passed faeces. Sometimes the worms can be seen around the child’s anus, if examined with a torch at night time. However, the best method of diagnosis is by the ‘sticky tape test’. To do this, press some clear sticky tape onto the skin around the anus first thing in the morning, before wiping or bathing. Then place the tape onto a glass slide or put it in a specimen container, so that your doctor can have it examined with a microscope to see if any eggs have been picked up by the sticky tape.

Treatment

The cause must be corrected, and this usually means the correction of unhygienic living conditions and the proper cooking of all meat and fish. It is easy to remove the worms from the body, but this does not necessarily cure the disease. Do not eat food robbed of its life-giving properties such as white flour products, cane sugar products, vegetables cooked in lots of water and the water thrown away, peeled potatoes, candy, cakes, ice cream, and meats of all kinds. Constipation, if present, must be overcome by herbal laxatives or enemas.

Fast two or three days and eat raw pumpkin seeds generously. You can eat as much as one pound a day. After doing these two or three days, drink freely of fennel seed tea. Worms do not like these as it is sedative to them, and they will pass from the body of the bowels are kept loose. Slippery elm tea taken freely will remove worms from the body and it is also good for the entire system. White oak bark tea used as an enema will remove pinworms.


Any of the following herbs are beneficial to those suffering from any kind of worms: wild yam, tansy, bogbean, poplar bark, balmony, hyssop, wormseed, American worm root, meadowsweet, white oak bark, golden seal, bitterroot, fennel, and slippery elm. Use them singly or in any combination to suit the need. Read their description and take according to direction given.

A single dose therapy is usually effective and is given to the infected person and each family member at the same time. You can buy worm treatment from pharmacies, without a prescription. It is not necessary to treat children on a regular basis, just in case they have worms.

Prevention

  • Exclusion of people with worms from childcare, preschool, school and work is usually not necessary. If there are loose bowel motions, exclusion should be for 24 hours after the diarrhoea has ceased.
  • Make sure children wash their hands after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Parents should seek medical treatment for infected children.
  • Change bed linen and underwear daily for several days after treatment. Normal hot water washing of clothes and bed linen will kill threadworm eggs.
  • Clean toilet seats and potties regularly.
  • Keep children’s fingernails short.
Useful links
Hand hygiene
Exclusion periods from childcare, preschool, school and work
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