How Often Should You Deworm?
Parasites can live for years in the intestines without causing any symptoms.

Worms are a very common source of illness for both adults and children, so experts recommend that deworming should be done two times a year, or every six months, beginning at the age of two years.

Deworming is the process of eliminating intestinal parasites, such as worms, using medication. In places where soil-transmitted helminths are prevalent, the WHO advises periodic medication treatment to deworm all children. This suggestion is supported by research suggesting that helminths transferred through soil harm children's growth and development, as well as their cognitive growth and future economic possibilities.

What are intestinal worms?

Worms are parasites that depend on the human intestines for both nutrition and survival. The worms induce poor nutrition, blood loss, and stunted growth by consuming resources intended for the human body. In some of the world's poorest regions, intestinal worm infections affect more than 2 billion people.

Hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm have been around for a long time. The infection spreads when they lay eggs in human feces that contaminate the soil, a major problem that is common in impoverished communities with poor sanitation. Eggs from this contaminated soil that is found on unwashed vegetables, water sources, or unwashed hands enter the body, causing an intestinal parasite infection.

Infected people experience intestinal blood loss due to the worms, which results in iron deficiency and malnutrition, as well as a lack of energy and motivation.

What are the symptoms of intestinal worm infection?

Parasites can live for years in the intestines without causing any symptoms. When they do, the following symptoms occur:

Hookworm infection

Most children with hookworm infections exhibit no symptoms at all.

  • However, because of bleeding from the gut wall where the worm is attached and especially when the infection is chronic, it can result in:
  • Rarely, when the larvae are moving through the lungs, the lungs become inflamed and cause cough, wheeze, and fever
  • A decrease in appetite and weight loss may develop several weeks following exposure to this hookworm. 
  • Poor nutrition can be brought on by ongoing infections. 

Roundworm infection

If you have ascariasis (a roundworm infection of the intestines), you might not have any symptoms. However, live worms may be seen in your feces.

If you do experience symptoms, they might include:

Tapeworm infection

Many people who have an intestinal tapeworm infection don't exhibit any symptoms. Your symptoms, if any, will depend on the type and location of the tapeworm. Depending on where the larvae have moved, invasive tapeworm infection symptoms can change.

Intestinal infection symptoms

Invasive infection symptoms

In the long run, tapeworm larvae that have left your intestines and developed cysts in other tissues may harm your organs and tissues, leading to:

  • Headache
  • Lumps or tumors with cysts
  • Intolerances to the larvae
  • Signs and symptoms of the nervous system, such as seizures

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How can you stop the spread of worm infections?

By practicing better hygiene, you can stop the spread of worm illnesses.

A few examples include:

  • Washing your hands, especially before and after using the restroom
  • Using hygienic restrooms
  • Consuming hygienic water
  • Consuming well-prepared food
  • Washing fruits, vegetables, and salads in sanitary water
  • Keeping fingernails trimmed and clean
  • Wearing slippers

What is the treatment of intestinal worms?

According to the WHO, these anti-worm medications (often albendazole or mebendazole) allow school-age children to "earn their way out of poverty" due to the significant effects they have on cognitive and intellectual development. 

The most widely used deworming medication is called albendazole, and it is a secure method of treating intestinal worms that are used all over the world.

  • Children aged between one and two years should take half a tablet (200 mg), and those aged between 2 and 19 years should take one tablet (400 mg).
  • Break and smash the tablets first before giving them (with water) to small children.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/19/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

https://speakingofmedicine.plos.org/2012/07/18/should-deworming-policies-in-the-developing-world-be-reconsidered/

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/11/15/452298843/the-debate-is-on-to-deworm-or-not-to-deworm

https://www.nhp.gov.in/national-deworming-day_pg

https://nhm.gov.in/images/pdf/NDD/FAQ/FAQ_for_NDD-FrontlineWorkers_Eng.pdf

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/worms-in-humans#avoid

https://speakingofmedicine.plos.org/2012/07/18/should-deworming-policies-in-the-developing-world-be-reconsidered/

https://www.vitaminangels.org/assets/content/uploads/OneSheetDewormINTL_ENG_2017040pdf

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15240-roundworms

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/Hookworms.aspx

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tapeworm/symptoms-causes/syc-20378174