Need for deworming in adults

By Dr. Pavithra, Consultant- Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal

All of us know deworming is crucial for kids and it is followed as a process. But how many of us know that deworming is equally important to adults as well?. That sudden flash of abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea could be due to the worms in the intestine.

The change in lifestyle, time constraints have made us depend on the outside food. The unwashed vegetables, untreated milk, dirty water is an opening for the worms to reach our stomach.

Tapeworm, roundworm and hookworms are the major types of worms that infest the walls of the stomach. These worms can feed off the nutrition in our body and these worms may migrate to the lungs, brain, eyes etc.

Worm infestation is common among children as they affect their growth and development. Similarly, they can affect adults as well. Even though in most cases worm infestation is not a life-threatening infection but it can lead to various clinical problems. Therefore, deworming is important both in kids and adults.

Fever, abdominal pain, itching at the rectal area, loss of weight and appetite, tiredness, anaemia along with loose stools and vomiting are the major signs of worm infestation. If deworming is ignored, these worms have the ability to form cysts in the liver and lungs leading to pneumonia and other neurological conditions.

How do worms enter the human body?

  • Using vegetables without washing
  • Undercooked meat
  • Drinking dirty water
  • Swimming in a pool with untreated water
  • Not washing hands before eating food
  • Lick from the pet’s

While deworming among children has gained attention worldwide but deworming among adults remains an unnoticed issue. Similar to kids, deworming need to be done in several stages for adults. Infections due to certain worms may lead to loss of iron from the blood resulting in anaemia. Pregnant women are at high risk due to worm infection as they may develop anaemia during pregnancy leading to multiple problems for the foetus.

These worm infections are observed to be more common where people are surrounded by poor sewage disposal, inadequate water treatment and poor food sanitation.

Maintaining personal hygiene and household cleanliness is of utmost importance to prevent infestation. Some steps that can be followed as a daily practice are:

  • Washing vegetables and fruits before consumption. Make sure that you wash them as soon as you get them from outside. Cleaning the green leafy vegetables with utmost care is important as many times leaves will have tiny worms which may go unnoticed.
  • Cut your nails regularly
  • Ensure that the toilets, bedroom and laundry area are disinfected.
  • Thoroughly wash clothes, towels and bed linen
  • Washing the hands regularly especially after using the washroom as well as before and after meals must be a habit

Deworming medication helps eliminate the worm existing in the intestine but specific treatment needs to be done for different worms and symptoms secondary to it. A simple stool test confirms the worm infestation in most cases.

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