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Worm infection in Children – Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Stomach pain/tummy upset is one of the most common complaints in children these days, especially during monsoon. Most of the times we, as parents, brush this off thinking it to be just an excuse. But what if there really is something wrong? What if your child really has abdominal pain?

Stomach pain is generally caused by the intestinal infection which happens due to the infestation of parasites such as worms. These worms live in your child's intestines and nourish on the child’s nutrition, making the child fall ill. There are countless types of worm infections and the most common types of infections are due to Tapeworms, Roundworms, Pinworms and Hookworms. 

Where Do Worms Come From?

· Contacting worm-infected surfaces, such as faeces, or the surfaces where the eggs of the worms had been laid.

· Close contact with someone who has worm infection: They may transfer eggs in their faeces, which can get on their clothing, other surfaces and food.

· Walking on soil barefoot: It could cause the infestation of germs and worms on the skin and later could cause infection.

· Improper hygiene: such as inadequate washing of hands.

· Consuming infected water or food: drinking water or eating food that contains or has been in contact with bits of faeces of infected person or animal.

· Eating raw or under-cooked beef, pork, or freshwater fish (Such as salmon or trout) can cause tapeworm infection as the live tapeworm larvae may be present on them. 

Symptoms of Worm Infection:

Worm infection could display lots of symptoms or no symptoms at all. Very common symptoms of worm infection are abdominal pain and irritability. Other symptoms might be: Skin rashes, anaemia, fatigue, itchy bottom or itchiness around the vagina (in girls) which is usually worse at night, insomnia, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, bloated abdomen, cramping, painful urination, fever, bed wetting and bloody stool, visible worms in stools – small, white and 8-13 mm long. In children, the symptoms may be vaguer such as irritability, restlessness and teeth grinding.

Worm Infection Treatment:

Worm infection could be treated with anti-parasitic medicines. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends five de-worming drugs: Pyrantel, Levamisole, Piperazine, Mebendazole and Albendazole. These drugs are easily available as over-the-counter medications. But it is always best to get professional advice from your physician. Also, strict hygiene measures should be followed to avoid re-infection (from worm eggs) of worms. 

How To Avoid Worm Infection?

· Maintain proper hygiene.

· Adequately and frequently washing hands. Washing hands thoroughly before handling food, before eating, after using the toilet and after close contact with animals should be made mandatory.

· Teach the children to drink clean, filtered or boiled water.

· Make sure your child change their undergarments daily.

· Wash the bedding clothes, pillow covers, blanket etc. regularly.

· Sterilize the toys regularly.

· Encourage your child to play in dry areas instead of muddy puddles.

· Cook veggies and meat thoroughly before serving to your child. Don’t allow raw meat or fish to be in contact with cooked food.

· Keep your child’s nails well trimmed to avoid deposition of dirt and germs under the nails.

· Sharing towels and undergarments is a big NO!

· Teach your kid to shower regularly and thoroughly.

· Clean your house with proper disinfectants.

As soon as the child is diagnosed with worm infection, it is a common notion to believe it is only because of poor hygiene. But the truth is – germs and worms are as common as muck and they are part and parcel of our life. Children love to play in soil, mud, water puddles and they interact closely with their friends. Worm infection could be caused from anywhere. Instead of forcing children to stop playing and interacting with friends, the best option is to take all the preventive measures. So, mums and dads, take care of your little ones this monsoon and stay safe.

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