What are anthelminthic or antiworm?
They are a group of antiparasitic drugs that kill the worms (helminths) or any other internal parasites in the body. During the mode of action, they do not cause any significant damage to the host. These drugs can also be used to treat animals.
These drugs kill the worms by starving them ( preventing sugar absorption ) or paralyzing them and killing them ( excreted in feces later ).
The worms may belong to either of two classes,
a) Flatworms which include tapeworms, flukes.
b) Roundworms which include pinworm and hookworm infections.
Symptoms of a worm infestation
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Gas/ bloating
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent cough, shortness of breath, wheezing
- Visible worm in stool
- Consumption of contaminated water soil food
- Contact with feces
- Poor sanitation
- Inadequate handwashing
- Contact with non-vaccinated / dirty animals
- Maintaining hygiene
- Washing of hands after toilet and before food
- Seek medical treatment on symptoms
- Change and wash beddings regularly
- Regular changing of undergarments
- Keep toilets clean
- Short fingernails
- Stool tests: Show the presence of worms or their eggs present in the digestive tract.
- Blood tests: There is an increase in eosinophil in the blood.
- Imaging tests: X-ray – if there is prolonged worm infestation, the mass of worms can be seen in the abdomen or lungs.
- Ultrasound – It may show the presence of worms in the pancreas or liver.
- CT scans or MRIs – They give detailed images of internal organs, which helps the doctor to detect worms blocking ducts in the liver and pancreas.
What are soil-transmitted helminths?
Helminth is a technical term for worms. They are of 3 types roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm.
How does one get infected by STH?
- A person already infected by helminths has the parasite in their feces.
- In areas where there is no proper sanitary / latrine system, the parasite infects the surrounding areas.
- The eggs or worms mature in surrounding areas and can infect humans through food, soil, water, direct contact, etc.
What are the significant symptoms caused by STH?
Anaemia, vitamin A deficiency, intestinal obstruction.
Are these drugs safe to take during pregnancy?
Yes, according to WHO, even if a woman is pregnant and gets infected with helminths, she should be treated. As a general precaution, consider taking all drugs after the first trimester.
If I am going to a country for a holiday where worms are a problem, should I be concerned?
Worm infestations are usually easy to manage. However avoid contact with unhygienic, water, food soil, forests, etc.