There are many reasons for a child to be tired and experience intense itchiness. If your child is behaving this way usually after playing with soil, a worm infection may be the culprit. Although they are easily managed, worms in children can enormously affect a child’s behaviour.
According to Cape Town-based paediatrician Dr Anisa Vahed, signs and symptoms of worm infection in children can include vague abdominal pain, diarrhoea, perianal itch, vaginitis, rectal prolapse, and iron deficiency anaemia. She says they are also usually identified from stools or vomitus by doing stool microscopy (a fresh sample).
Mehle Ngidi from Scottburg in KwaZulu-Natal, whose child has had a severe worm infection, says he never noticed any symptoms until he saw worms coming out of his daughter’s nose and mouth.
He, however, clarifies that early detection has become easier and that constant deworming through Vermox has helped his daughter a lot.
Ntobeko Ngcolosi, from Paulpietersburg in KwaZulu-Natal, also noticed the severity of her daughter’s worms when they started flowing out through her nose and believes that playing and eating soil might have been the main cause.
“Many worms came out of my daughter’s nose due to amasi and eating soil, causing a serious itchy nose. I heard about a home remedy for worms in children using petrol, so I gave her a teaspoon of it, and she was completely fine.
“I also went to the doctor and he gave her some white medicine which helped her take the rest out normally from below,” says Ngcolosi.
Different types to look out for
Vahed further highlights the common types of worms in children and how they are transmitted.
- Enterobius vermicularis (pinworm or threadworm): Transmitted via direct contact with contaminated fingernails, clothes, bedding, and personal care.
- Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm): Transmitted when eggs are swallowed from contaminated soil.
- Taenia saginatum and T. solium (beef and pork tapeworms): Transmission by ingestion of raw or undercooked beef or pork.
Highlighting exactly how severe a worm infection can get, Vahed mentions that though worms in children are not utterly dangerous, complications can extend to seizures if there is spread to the brain, liver, and lung abscesses, as well as bowel obstruction if the worms get entangled within the bowel. She thus recommends repeated deworming every six months to avoid potential severe effects.
Regular deworming is crucial
“Deworming is very effective. Preventative treatment is started at a year old, and doses are recommended to be repeated every six months. Oral deworming medication (mebendazole or albendazole) is prescribed, and doses are repeated a few weeks later.
“Regular routine check-ups every six months include monitoring weight and diet as well as ensuring every child has been routinely dewormed,” Vahed explains.
Furthermore, hand washing, careful preparation of foods through adequate washing and cooking, and improved sanitation are other potential ways she recommends that can help prevent worm infections in children.
“Worm infections are fairly common and easily preventable. The medications to assist with prevention are easily available over the counter and tolerated well by children,” she adds.
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