September 18, 2020 5:00:46 pm
By Dr Santosh Kumar
No one ever wants to think about worms, right? They are nasty parasites that feed off our bodies and don’t go away unless you actively get rid of them. These parasites are the manhole inside all of our bodies and as scary as it sounds, it is a common and very normal issue among both children and adults.
Worms affect more than a billion people around the globe. They can be found almost everywhere, and they contaminate several public areas. Deworming is essential as well as important as it improves your child’s immunity, and thereby protecting him/her from chronic illnesses caused by worms.
Is it necessary to de-worm?
Yes! It is important for children to de-worm at least once every six months. De-worming gets rid of all the intestinal worms. It can be done in two ways:
Via medicines prescribed by doctors for older children
Through syrup for toddlers as recommended by the doctor
There are several types of intestinal worms that can be found in our body like tapeworms, roundworms, pinworms and hookworms. These can cause several infections to humans once they start infesting the body. They grow and multiply in the walls of our intestines and if left untreated, over a period of time can cause several health issues. Early diagnosis of said worms will help treat your child better and faster before they fall terribly sick.
How do kids get infected by these worms?
A few reasons how children get infected are by:
Symptoms for the presence of worms:
These are signs that you must immediately get your child checked and treated for parasitic worms.
A few ways to check for the presence of worms are:
Checking under their nails:
These worms tend to lay eggs under nails which if not washed properly enter the stomach and cause infections. So, doctors always check under the nails for worms.
Examination of stool:
The easiest way to check for worms is in your child’s stool. As scary as it sounds, the worms generally come out through their stool. This is the easiest and clearest sign of presence of worms in the intestine.
This is another common method used by doctors to check for the presence of intestinal parasites.
The sticky tape test:
Doctor’s also perform the sticky tape test where a sticky tape is stuck to a child’s buttocks. The tape is removed and later sent to the lab for testing.
When you don’t take the necessary action to look into the presence of worms in your child you could be exposing him/her to several dangers. Worm infections can cause malnutrition, intestinal blockage, weight loss, anaemia and be a huge barrier to their healthy growth.
How to prevent your kids from getting affected?
A few things that you can do to ensure your child doesn’t get affected is making sure they wash their hands thoroughly with soap. After contact with pets, after coming back from the playground and after pretty much any activity involving public areas, dirt and contaminated spaces.
Clean food and water is crucial to avoid infections. Make sure you wash fruits and vegetables well before you give them to your children. As tempting as it may be, avoid allowing them to play barefoot in the mud, grass and other public spaces. Undercooked meat does not kill the worms present in them causing a lot of infections so make sure you don’t serve them meat that is undercooked. Swimming pools are packed during the summers and is definitely another place your child could get infected. Public pools tend to be more contaminated because of the number of people who come and use the pool so refrain from using a public pool. Make sure your child drinks only clean water which they take from home. Avoid water from public drinking spaces.
By deworming your children, you effectively reduce the overall spread of worm infestations in the community. Treated and untreated children benefit from this, by improving the health and participation of school going children and this should be done twice a year because it acts as a protecting shield. Regular medication and consistent practice of healthy hygiene will protect your child on the daily basis. It is very easy and normal for children to have worms and it is in fact nothing to be greatly worried about. With early diagnosis and careful attention, they can be taken care of quite easily allowing your children to grow better, stronger, sharper and healthier.
The National Deworming Day is celebrated on February 10 each year by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with an objective to deworm children between the ages of (1-19) at schools and Anganwadi centres. The Health Ministry is urging all parents to join hands and ensure their children are dewormed on this day.
(The writer is Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Banashankari, Bangalore)
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