By Flavia Nassaka
Doctors recommend regular de-worming for adults and children
Many of us know that children require regular de-worming to stay healthy. However, only a few adults consider it equally important to de-worm. In reality, both children and adults are exposed to the same risk of worm infestation.
The bad effects from an infection may be more pronounced in children but, as one famous physician said, worm infestation is a “silent and insidious” danger. Worms have been known to cause itchy lesions on the skin, coughing, chest pain, wheezing, and fever.
Robinah Bihemaiso, a Public Health Nurse at Mulago National Referral Hospital, says that people with a persistent parasite or worm infestation tend to have blood problems, especially anemia, muscle and joint complaints, mood problems, digestive complaints, heart, lung problems if the infestation has widely spread and discomfort in the stomach or liver area. Signs of advanced worm infection include anemia, protein deficiency, weight loss, and heart failure. The World Health Organization estimates that globally, 1.5 billion people have roundworms, making it the third most common human infection in the world with the major incidence occurring in the sub-tropical or tropical developing countries.
Dr. Elizabeth Kiboneka a pediatrician at Mulago hospital recommends that we should de-worm every after three months or at least thrice a year depending on how frequent we eat risky foods.
Kiboneka highlights that when one eats unhygienic products or engages in risky behavior, worms are picked from an infected person and deposited in the digestive system up to the intestines where they grow and multiply. The main species that infect people are the roundworm, whipworm and hookworms.
Dr. Kiboneka explains that worm infestations may not present any symptom at all that’s why diagnosis can only depend on careful examination.
There is no definite escape route from worm infestation as some occur in the anal and reproductive organs of humans and others are picked from eating unhygienic foods, especially improperly washed fruits, vegetables, juices, and undercooked meats and milk.
The doctor says periodical deworming is very essential in order to avoid infestations because over occurrence can result into intestinal obstruction which can only be reversed by an operation.
“Treatment is tricky because of the worms’ life cycle. If you kill the adults but not the eggs, the eggs will grow into adults again. If you kill the eggs but not the adults, the adults will lay more eggs, thus you have a vicious cycle”, she says.
The difficulty in diagnosis is compounded as the symptoms often mimic other health problems such as allergies and asthma.
Medics say that treatment can be in the form of medications (drugs) or alternative therapy (herbs).
Mebendazole is a common anti-worm medication that destroys some common worms in humans.
Albendazole is another common hookworm treatment prescribed by doctors. Hookworm infection is 100 percent curable.
To prevent the spread of worms, Nurse Bihemaiso emphasizes personal hygiene and washing hands while handling food.
Garlic is popular because of the awesome aroma that it adds to food but it’s also an anti-parasitic food that can help deal with any type of intestinal worms. Raw garlic has sulfur-containing amino acids that are anti-parasitic in nature. The antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties in garlic help to kill microbes in the body.
The nurse says eating three cloves of raw garlic on an empty stomach every day for one week is one of the simplest ways to get rid of all types of intestinal worm. Alternatively, two crushed garlic cloves can be boiled in a cup of milk and drunk on an empty stomach. Efficacy can be attained if this is done for a week.
Treating intestinal worms using Pumpkin seeds: Kiboneka says that raw pumpkin seeds have a high level of a compound known as cucurbitins that paralyze worms and prevents them from holding onto the intestinal walls. One tablespoon of the seeds should be peeled and crushed, and then infused in 250 ml of boiling water and drunk. This will kill the parasites and help in expelling the tapeworms.