How important is deworming infants and kids?
Do you deworm your child?
When should you start deworming your little one?
Can the deworming medicine for adults be given to children too?
These are a few of the questions moms have when it comes to deworming their kids. Let us find answers to these questions.
Deworming reminds me of my vacation days in 6th standard (all the way up to high school), where my mom used to use boiling hot water to clean my inner wear. Her reason – apart from making it clean, it will help in the deworming process too!
Don’t get me wrong, after the initial wash, the responsibility of washing clothes reverted back to me. Just that my mom didn’t trust me around hot water.
All these extra steps because deworming is something that was taken very seriously earlier, probably due to the fact that people weren’t so obsessed with using a hand wash or hand sanitizer every few seconds. Plus, kids used to play outdoors quite a lot, while kids nowadays stay cooped up indoors.
Also worm infestation is not a problem that affects small kids only. Worms can affect adults too!
Animals are also at risk of being infected by these nasty little worms. So pet animals are also to be dewormed so that they stay healthy and don’t spread worms to you.
What does deworming mean?
Deworming is a process in which a medicine is given to the affected person to get rid of helminthes.
Helminthes are nothing but parasitic worms, which can affect your general well being. These worms usually make the intestine their home from where they start causing issues.
The most common ones are round worms, tapeworms, pinworms and hookworms.
Antihelminthics are used to treat worm infestation and these are available in the form of syrups and tablets.
Causes of worm infection:
When it comes to our kids, we parents usually go to great lengths to ensure that our precious little ones are safe. But despite our best efforts, there seem to be little loopholes that cause them to fall ill.
Once you know the causes, it is easy for you to close those loopholes. So let us look at how your child can get worms.
- Drinking water that is not filtered or boiled
- Eating fruits and vegetables that are not washed properly
- Eating meat that hasn’t been cooked well
- Not washing utensils properly
- Playing or walking barefoot
- Not washing hands before food and after playing
- Not washing the hands after playing with pets
- Not washing hands after using the toilet
- Sharing clothes with friends (This point is especially for the kids who stay in hostels)
- Swimming in water bodies that aren’t clean
- Contact with kids or adults who are infected
So now you know that, while you may be extremely careful about the hygiene, there are plenty of other places from where these worms can enter your child’s body! Worrisome isn’t it?
Due to this reason, you need to check if your child has a case of worms. It can be done if you know the symptoms.
So next let us look at the symptoms of a worm infection.
Symptoms of worm infection:
Small parasitic worms in your kids’ body- this can make you feel uneasy on so many levels.
But how would you know if your child has a worm infection?
It is easy; all you need to do is look out for some telltale signs. The ones given below are the most common ones.
A lot of moms complain that their kids are not gaining weight despite them eating good, nutritious food on time. Worms could be a reason why this is happening! Apart from unexplained weight loss/ lack of weight gain, the other symptoms of a worm infestation are –
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain or discomfort
- Itching around the anus
- Irritation (especially at night)
- Sleeplessness (especially at night)
- Blood in stool
- Worms visible in stool
- Urinary tract infection
- Diarrhea or dysentery (in some cases)
Can worms affect my kid’s growth?
Worms can cause a lot of problems for kids (and adults). They are free loaders who consume the nutrients meant for the development of the body. This can bring on nutritional deficiencies.
It is seen that children who have worms have vitamin and mineral deficiencies too. For example certain worms target vitamin A, which makes the child deficient. Iron and protein are other targets, which makes kids anemic.
Worms will cause a drop in fitness levels. Children with worms will be fatigued and tired all the time. They will lose interest in physical activities.
Apart from that they won’t be able to concentrate in school, leading to a drop in grades. They may also not want to go to school.
The immune system will also be compromised which will make them susceptible to other illnesses.
All this will end up hampering the physical and mental development.
Parents usually overlook worms as a cause of their child’s sudden disinterest and may dismiss it as laziness. We may even shout and scold at them for not paying attention. Older kids, especially adolescent kids, might find it embarrassing to share their symptoms with you.
If your child has suddenly stopped showing interest in games, looks tired all the time or has under performing in school activities, then do ensure that it is not the handiwork of worms.
Is deworming infants and kids necessary?
As discussed above worm infestation can cause anemia, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development. If you suspect worm infestation deworming is the best way to bring back your kids dropped fitness level and health.
Most of the doctors recommend a periodic deworming for the kids and the whole family.
Deworming is considered so important that even the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare promotes this and observes National Deworming Day every year on February 10th to ensure deworming children at schools and anganwaadi (preschools).
Note that deworming medication is generally not to be given to children below one year, unless and until your doctor has you to do so. Again, this is a topic of debate, because some doctors say it is ok to deworm your child.
So what if your kid who is under 1 shows symptoms of a worm infection?
Take him to the doctor and get him checked so that he/she can ascertain the course of treatment.
You can also read whether worm infection can cause weight loss in babies and kids.
Are there any tests to confirm if your child has worms?
Yes, there are tests that can confirm if there are worms. If you see the symptoms listed above then you should consult your pediatrician who can check and confirm if your child has become a host for these parasites.
Usually a stool test is done to check for parasites and eggs.
A physical exam can also help the doctor in finding out if there are worms. There are signs that we may miss, but a doctor knows where and what to look for.
In the case of a severe worm infection, then an ultra sound may be advised so as to help ascertain the exact location of the worms and eradicate it.
Medicines for deworming infants and kids:
My mom used to tell me that my grand mom fed the entire family some castor oil periodically. This induced a severe bout of diarrhea and that helped in flushing the worms out.
The thought of having castor oil itself doesn’t seem like a tasty option right? That and the fact that you had to take it on an empty stomach!
You are picturing a nasty scene where you are struggling to feed your kid some castor oil, right?
Relax! The times have changed and there are medicines that can help in getting rid of worms.
Albendezole is the most common medicine used to deworm. You can use this deworming medicine for children too.
Is Albendezole the best dewormer for humans? Well it depends on the type of worms in the system. While Albendezole is used mostly, at times, this medicine won’t work on certain kind of worms, so don’t forget to do a check-up after the medicine has been administered.
The dosage depends on the age and weight of the person. Your child’s doctor will be able to decide how much the dosage is based on his/her age and weight.
How safe are the medicines for deworming babies and kids?
Now you may be wondering if the dewormer medication for humans are safe or not.
Medicines for deworming usually don’t have any side effects and will help in eradicating the worms. But always see your doctor before you go to give deworming tablets.
How to ensure effectiveness of deworming?
It is not enough if you take medicines to get rid of worms!
This is because, the medicines will only help in eradicating worms in that individual. For effectiveness, you should ensure that the entire family takes the sufficient dose. This is so that if at all any other person has been infected; they don’t pass the worms back.
Apart from taking deworming medication, you should also ensure that your family takes precautions to prevent worms from entering your body.
You should also ensure that you give the medicines at regular time periods specified by your doctor. This ensures the worms that hatch out of any eggs left behind are also killed.
Prevention is better than cure
Haven’t you heard the saying mentioned above?
It is always better to take precautions to avoid worms from setting up their abode in your little one’s intestines. This is applicable for everyone – from infants to adults.
I have mentioned what causes a worm infection. Now let us take a look at the precautions to take to avoid this infection. It may seem repetitive but it is always better to reiterate things that you should not forget.
- Safe Drinking Water
Always ensure that you and your kids drink filtered or boiled water only. Do not drink any soft drinks from roadside vendors.
- Wash fruits and vegetables properly
Always ensure that you give your family fruits after cleaning them properly. The same applies for vegetables too! Clean it well before cooking.
- Cook meat well
By cooking meat well you will be able to kill any worms present. It is better to purchase meat from trusted vendors and use on fresh meat.
Also avoid eating any meat dishes outside especially street food. It would not have been cooked in a hygienic environment and you can’t guarantee if the meat if fresh or not.
- Wash utensils properly
There is no point of washing and cooking everything well if you don’t wash your cookware well. If possible, keep the utensils out in the sun to dry after they have been washed.
- Do not go barefoot
Get covered shoes for your child’s playtime and for school.
- Wash hands after playing
This is a must even if they don’t play in dirt or sand. Washing hands after playing should be strictly ensured and made a habit.
- Pet care
If you have pets at home, do ensure that they are dewormed on a regular basis. Also not washing the hands after playing with pets isn’t good, so do wash after you play with them.
- Wash hands before food
This is a good practice that will help ensure you’re your child stays healthy.
- Always wash hands after using the toilet
This holds true for you after a nappy change too!
- Clean the privates of babies and kids well
Small kids and babies can’t clean themselves well, so you should ensure that they stay clean. Don’t let them stay in the same diaper for long periods.
- Cut the nails
Long nails can harbor dirt and eggs of these worms; so do trim it on a regular basis.
- Clean toilets and bathrooms regularly
It is not enough that you and your family stays clean. You should clean the toilets and bathrooms so that they don’t become breeding grounds.
- Clean bedspreads regularly
This is important because the worms and eggs might end up on the bedspread of an infected person. So to eradicate this menace completely, change and clean the bedspreads regularly.
- Do not encourage sharing of clothes or towels
This is one way worms spread from infected person to you.
- Swimming in clean water bodies
If your little one loves swimming, then ensure that the water in the pool is clean and treated.
- Do not allow contact with kids or adults who are infected
Sounds tough, but if you know of anyone, then maintain a distance.
- Ensure house help and nannies maintain good personal hygiene
They are also part of the family!
- Ensure that the surroundings of your house are clean.
Now you know while deworming infants below one year is not suggested by many doctors, it is to be done for older kids, adults and pets. While we are careful about cleanliness, your kids are growing and so is their world. They can come into contact with these worms at any point.
There are many people who say that since they follow the highest levels of hygiene, they do not have to worry about deworming their kids. But what they don’t understand is that you can’t always protect kids from illnesses.
So make sure you always look for symptoms and seek medical assistance.
It also goes without saying that you should not try to self-medicate. Only a doctor would know if your child requires treatment and the dose required for your child’s age and weight.
Not just the kids, do ensure that all the family members do it regularly to ensure that worms don’t trouble your family. If you haven’t started doing it, then you should start now.
Moms, so do you deworm your kids regularly?
Dear mommas, hope you liked this post. If you have, then shower some love in the comments. Now, if you have any queries, then all you have to do is- ask.