EX­PERT SPEAK

Con­trol­ling in­testi­nal worm in­fec­tions

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS - Dr Bi­jal Shri­vas­tava, MBBS and MD (Pae­di­atrics), is a neona­tol­o­gist at Dr LH Hi­ranan­dani Hospi­tal. She works full-time as a pe­di­atric con­sul­tant and has been a pe­di­atric prac­ti­tioner for the last 12 years.

On a reg­u­lar OPD visit, a child came to me with a case of per­sis­tent pin­worms in­fes­ta­tion (en­ter­o­bi­a­sis). She had been suf­fer­ing for 5-6 months de­spite tak­ing worm med­i­ca­tions 3-4 times. Based on the med­i­cal facts about th­ese worms, cer­tain points were high­lighted and once cor­rected, she got cured. In­testi­nal worms are a com­mon child­hood prob­lem and most chil­dren suf­fer from pin­worms. Chil­dren com­plain of pe­ri­anal itch­ing in the night that is known to cause lack of sleep and ab­dom­i­nal pain. Th­ese adult fe­male worms come out of the anus and lay mul­ti­ple eggs which can cause re­in­fes­ta­tion and per­sis­tence of the in­fes­ta­tion in the fam­ily. Th­ese eggs sur­vive for three weeks and can re­main on un­der­gar­ments, bed­sheets and cov­ers and can also be car­ried by air and in­gested by soiled hands. They then hatch and de­velop as adult worms and the cy­cle con­tin­ues. One can no­tice the thread­worms crawl­ing in the area with a torch.

TO PRE­VENT THE SPREAD, TAKE THE FOL­LOW­ING STEPS:

Avoid swal­low­ing tap wa­ter dur­ing bathing, brush­ing, and swim­ming.

Wash hands thor­oughly for few se­conds with soap be­fore eat­ing. Use a brush to clean the ar­eas be­tween fin­gers and be­low the nails. Also, wash hands af­ter han­dling di­a­pers. Cut nails short. Avoid pe­ri­anal itch­ing. Shower im­me­di­ately af­ter wak­ing up rather than bathing as eggs may en­ter in wa­ter and can be swal­lowed.

Wash un­der­gar­ments, tow­els and py­ja­mas in hot wa­ter with deter­gent. Also, do not shake th­ese gar­ments as eggs can dis­perse.

All the fam­ily mem­bers and if fea­si­ble, class­mates should be de­wormed. In this way, this pin­worms prob­lem can be con­trolled. Other worms which also cause chil­dren in­fes­ta­tion are round­worms (as­cari­a­sis), hook­worms (anky­losto­mi­a­sis), and whip­worms (trichuri­a­sis). Th­ese all are trans­mit­ted by in­ges­tion of eggs passed out in stools and in­gested by mouth. They cause var­i­ous symp­toms such as ab­dom­i­nal com­plaints, cough, wheeze, bowel ob­struc­tion, anaemia and over­all poor health. Good san­i­ta­tion along with strict hand hy­giene can pre­vent th­ese worms in­fes­ta­tion.

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