Dealing with worms

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If you have young children, chances are you’ll have to deal with an infestation of threadworms at some stage. While not a pleasant topic, treatment is simple and easy so there’s no cause for concern.

Threadworms are very contagious so outbreaks are common, especially in young children. The schoolyard is where many threadworm cases are passed on. So with class going back this week it is a good time to remind your children about good hygiene habits.

They are literally tiny worms about 1.5cm long that live in the intestine. Infection comes from swallowing the tiny eggs, which then hatch and mate. After a few weeks the female worms lay eggs around the anus, which can cause itching and irritation. These eggs remain infectious for about three weeks, so if they are swallowed, the life cycle of the worms starts over.

While you cannot catch worms from animals, the eggs can be spread onto bedding and other surfaces where they can easily infect young children.

Anyone can catch worms, but the symptoms are generally worse in kids. These include an itchy bottom and irritability. It’s important to remember that while worms can be embarrassing and annoying, they do not cause major health problems.

Treatment is easy and there are two main options to consider. Many of the worming treatments like Combantrin come in the form of chocolate to make treating kids easy.

The two ingredients to consider are Mebendazole or Pyrantel. Mebendazole is easiest as it is one dose size for everyone but can only be used in people over two-years-old. Pyrantel is for ages six months and older, but you have to adjust the dosage according to body weight and size.

If you do not treat threadworms, it will not cause serious damage, provided you can tolerate the symptoms. The infection lasts around six weeks from the initial egg intake to the worms dying and if you are careful you can avoid being re-infected.

If you do have kids with worms, be sure to wash your hands regularly and maintain good hygiene habits. The main reason kids do catch worms more often is simply because they are not as careful with hygiene and playing with other kids.

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