Intestinal worms are parasites most commonly found in children ages 12 and younger. According to Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., up to 400 million children world-wide suffer from intestinal- worm infection.
HealthSuccesssite.com reports that the most common worms found in children are roundworms, pinworms, threadworms, hookworms and tapeworms. The causes of intestinal worms can vary based on the type of worm the child has. Roundworms enter the body when children eat contaminated foods; pinworms and threadworms are spread through dirty toys, hands and fingers; hookworms enter the body through the bare feet of a child who walks on infected ground; and tapeworms are consumed through uncooked flesh foods.
Where there are a minimal amount of worms present in the body, no symptoms are observed. However, as worms multiply and exit the body through defecation, itching and irritation around the anal opening occurs. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, other symptoms may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, bloating and weight loss.
Once your health provider diagnoses the type of worm your child has, he will prescribe a medication or suggest an over-the-counter treatment. The most common medications are in pill form with one tablet taken immediately and additional doses taken over a period of two weeks.
The best way to prevent intestinal-worm infection is to keep your child's environment clean and sanitary. Make sure that hands are cleaned and sanitized after bathroom visits and prior to meals, trim your child's nails often, discourage nail-biting and scratching of the anal area, change bedding regularly, and encourage daily baths and underwear changes. Make sure to wash their hands thoroughly after handling raw meats and ensure that meats are well-cooked.
Intestinal worms are highly contagious, and their eggs can be airborne. When a child is diagnosed with and treated for any type of intestinal worm, the entire family should be treated as well.
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