Often children complain of stomach aches and discomfort. One of the main causes of these stomach aches are helminth infections or intestinal parasites like worms. These parasites live in your child’s intestine and feed on their nutrition making them sick.
Roundworms, pinworms, tapeworms, and hookworms cause stomach troubles when your child begins his/her preschool. Young kids aged between one to fourteen years are at the maximum risk of developing parasitic intestinal worm infestation. According to the WHO, Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) or parasitic worms are one of the worms which produce thousands of eggs each day and transmit the infection through infected person’s faeces or poor hygiene methods adopted after defecating. These eggs further contaminate the soil and subsequently spread the infection through the food and water.
Unwashed vegetables and unhygienic cooking conditions promote the spread of intestinal worm infections. Children who play outside consume this unhygienic food without washing their hands and thus get sick laden with stomach worms.
Symptoms and Harmful Impacts of Worm Transmission
- Tapeworm infection may cause loss of appetite, eating too frequently, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, and malnutrition in some cases.
- Diarrhoea, passing worms along with stools accompanied by dry cough and fever are symptoms of Roundworm infection.
- Pinworm infection results in severe or occasional itching around the anus, trouble sleeping due to itching, and painful urination.
- Hookworm infection leads to wheezing, coughing, fatigue, anaemia, and fatigue.
- Stomach worm infection can further cause loss of appetite; reduced nutritional intake, diarrhoea; dysentery; and limited nutrient absorption through the small intestine.
- Stomach worms are not restricted to young children alone. Both adults and kids can be unaware of the worms inside their bodies. However, they must be equally alert of any signs of worm infections like diarrhoea, fatigue, abdominal pain, dysentery, and weight loss.
- Severe infections may often make children too sick to even go to school, these worm infections if left untreated or undiagnosed, can have a long-term effect on the overall health and development of the child.
- Worm infections can be severe, often behind malnutrition and slow physical development and mental growth of the child. They may impact the children’s productivity, not letting them concentrate on their studies or even lead an active life.
Prevention of Worm Infection
Improving hygiene is the first step to fight and prevent intestinal worm infection. This crucial step includes washing hands before eating and after using the toilet; wearing slippers/shoes to prevent worm transmission through the open cracks of the feet; keeping the surroundings clean and following personal hygiene practices like clipping the fingernails nails short and clean.
Ensuring improved access to clean water, hygienic sanitation, and overall accessibility to clean surroundings minimizes any chances of catching worm infection. Parents must thus improve the quality of food they give to their children. They must follow optimal processing and cooking techniques like adequately washing raw fruits and vegetables with clean water. This would further help parents to meet the nutritional needs of their children and contribute to building their immunity levels.
National Deworming Day
India carries the highest burden of worm infestation among children. The National Deworming Day (NDD) initiative was launched by the Government of India in February 2015, to counter the threat of worm infestation. NDD is one of the largest public health initiatives observed across the country. National Deworming day aims to promote and educate the masses about proper hygiene and precautions to be followed for the drastic reduction of stomach worm infections. It must be noted that along with medications, proper handwashing and sanitation play a crucial role in controlling parasitic infections.
The National Deworming Day supports the ‘Deworm the World Initiative’ and has treated more than 100 million children across 12 states in its debut year. In 2016, the National Deworming day initiative treated more than 250 million children covering 36 states and union territories.
The Need for Deworming
According to the WHO, hookworm, roundworm, whipworm infections contribute to an alarming 50 lakh cases of disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) worldwide. The NDD is implemented to reduce the cases of parasitic intestinal worms or Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH), among all children and adolescents.
As part of this campaign, children and adolescents aged between 1-19 years are orally administered 400 mg of Albendazole across schools, rural child care centers, and other educational institutions. Though Albendazole is very safe, it may cause minor side effects. Children and adolescents with high worm infections might experience temporary abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, and fatigue as probable side effects.
Stomach Worms- Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose stomach worm infections, a doctor will conduct a thorough examination to identify the type of worm infection affecting the child. Most worm infections can be easily treated by a course of anti-parasitic medicines available over-the-counter, but it is advisable to seek expert medical advice. Equally important is to follow good hygiene practices along with prescribed medications to recover quickly.
Gigadocs Medicare Support
At Gigadocs, we understand how worm infections can harm your child’s health. Download the Gigadocs app to avail supervised teleconsultations from experienced doctors who are specialised in handling worm infection cases.
The stress of daily responsibilities and household chores may make parents forget the next immunization dose of their child. Gigadocs brings the Vaccination Schedule chart to help parents get a complete date sheet of their child’s next vaccination through their date of birth.
Discuss the common symptoms of stomach worm infection with the best paediatrician for your child over a call or a virtual appointment on the Gigadocs app.
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