What are Worm Infestations?
Children often complain of stomach ache. One of the leading causes of stomach ache in children is intestinal infection, which is mostly caused by intestinal parasites such as worms.
Worms tend to live in the intestine and feed off your child’s nutrition. There are different types of intestinal worms that can cause worm infections, but the most common are tapeworms, roundworms, pinworms or threadworms and hookworms. Worm infestations and related infections are common in children and are also easily treated.
What are the Symptoms of Worm Infections?
Some common symptoms of worm infections are irritability, weight loss, stomach ache, bed wetting, blood in stools. Besides these, each worm infection has distinct symptoms as listed below:
- Tapeworm infection – Jaundice, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, eating too frequently and sometimes even malnutrition
- Roundworm infection – Diarrhea, passing worms with stools, dry cough, fever
- Pinworm infection – Itching around the anus, trouble sleeping due to itching, painful urination
- Hookworm infection – Wheezing, coughing, fatigue, anemia.
What are the Causes of Worm Infections?
As children are quite dynamic and active, they tend to come in contact with germs easily. Some of the causes of worm infections include:
- Coming in contact with an infected surface such as soil containing eggs or germs at a playground or touching pets infected with worms
- Consuming infected food or water
- Improper hygiene
- Inadequate hand washing
- Not using footwear while playing/walking in open areas.
- Low socio-economic status, poor sanitation, coupled with low literacy rates of parents, particularly the mothers, are also the contributing causes of this problem.
How are Worm Infections diagnosed?
To diagnose a worm infection, your doctor will need accurate history and symptoms so that he/she can identify the type of worm infection that is affecting your child.
How are Worm Infections Treated?
Most worm infections can be easily treated. Your doctor will prescribe a course of anti-parasitic medicines. Anti-worm or deworming medicines are also available over-the-counter, but it is always advisable to seek professional advice from a doctor. You can also consult a doctor online to start with. Besides, it is important to follow good hygiene practices along with medication for quicker and effective recovery.
A UNICEF report says that regular de-worming can substantially increase school attendance and can significantly improve children’s ability to learn in school. The growth rate and weight gain of children who are regularly de-wormed is higher than those who are not. Hence regular de-worming is the best solution to eliminate many of the childhood illnesses.
If left undiagnosed worm infestations often cause serious health problems and impact a child’s ability to attend and perform well in school. It produces nutritional deficiencies, anemia, stunted physical and mental growth, psycho-social problems and repeated gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tract infections. All these contribute to high morbidity in children and remain a major cause of high infant and child mortality in our country.