Worms (in scientific helminths) are called parasitic worms and their larvae. The number of species that can be found in humans is quite large, but, fortunately, most of them are very rare. In the European part of Russia, the so-called intestinal nematodes or roundworms (ascaris, pinworm) living in the intestines more often than others find themselves.
Less common are parasites that live outside the intestine or in its wall (hookworm, necator, trichinella, intestinal eel). Very rarely – flukes (trematodes) and tapeworms (cestodes): they threaten only those children who eat raw or poorly roasted / boiled meat or fish, unwashed vegetables and fruits, drink water from rivers and other water bodies.
Since in 90% of cases children have ascariasis and enterobiasis (the disease caused by pinworms), we’ll discuss them in more detail.
Roundworms are roundworms of white, pink or beige color, translucent, ranging in length from a few millimeters to 30–40 centimeters. This type of worms is mainly in the small intestine, does not attach to its wall and constantly moves in the direction opposite to the direction of food.
That is why it is rather difficult to find ascaris in feces. From time to time in the contents of the pot are microscopic eggs of worms that are not visible to the naked eye.
Without treatment, ascaris can live in the intestines for several years.
Pinworms are small, up to 1 cm long, often curved parasites of whitish color. They live in the lower parts of the small and large intestines, so they are more often than ascaris, found in feces. At night pinworms are selected on the skin, in the folds of which lay eggs.
In girls, they can crawl into the external genital organs, irritating and infecting the mucous membranes with bacteria, protozoa, fungi, that is, all that the parasites bring with them from the intestine. The life of pinworms is short – about 1.5 months, but due to the huge number of eggs laid, their numbers are constantly growing, and the disease without treatment can last for years.
Where do worms come from? Microscopic size eggs or larvae of parasites that are very resistant to environmental influences enter the child’s body: it is known that both of them can wait for a long time in the ground, on the surface of objects or products, in the folds of linen, on the skin, under nails.
When the eggs of the worms penetrate the mouth, they with some losses pass through the acidic, aggressive environment of the stomach and are activated in the intestine, where there are all conditions for their development.
Surprisingly, a baby can become infected with worms at home, in an outpatient clinic or kindergarten, because in all rooms there is something that serves as an excellent refuge for parasites: outdoor shoes, not perfectly clean floor in the hallway, toys, common areas. “Acquaintance” with worms often occurs on the street, if a child picks up curious objects from the ground, plays in the sandbox. Danger are animals, especially stray, or domestic, being on the street.
Egg carriers of parasites are insects – flies, cockroaches, ants. In addition, time bombs can be found in dust, vegetables, fruits, greens, and water.
There is a high risk of worms if adults and children do not follow the well-known rules of hygiene: do not wash their hands with soap, eat dirty vegetables or fruits, drink raw water from rivers and other water bodies.
- They are the cause of any disruption of the gastrointestinal tract: constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, problems with the liver or pancreas.
- Because of them, the child may begin allergies, weaken the immune system, appear signs of intoxication (poisoning) of the body: so, because of a nervous system disorder, the child begins to grit his teeth, he develops convulsions.
- Worms can aggravate health problems that arose before they appeared (for example, increase atopic dermatitis), and also serve as a starting point for hereditary diseases.
It happens that the mother, considering the contents of the pot, detects live or immobile parasites (most often pinworms). In addition, ascaris eggs can be detected in stool tests or enterobiosis can be detected by making a special study – scraping. But more often, the appearance of problems has to be guessed by indirect signs.
The baby is drooling heavily, he chokes on food (or is sick), does not want to eat or, on the contrary, constantly asks for supplements. Sometimes a child complains of pain around the navel or cannot indicate exactly in which part of the abdomen it occurs, the stool periodically or permanently gets upset (diarrhea or constipation occurs).
In addition, the baby gets tired quickly, he often has a headache or is dizzy, his face turns pale, and blue circles appear under his eyes. All these symptoms suggest poisoning of the body.
Some tests also indirectly confirm the presence of worms: persistent intestinal dysbiosis, low hemoglobin, a large number of eosinophils in the blood (normal up to 5%), increased ESR in the general blood count.
If worms cause allergies, skin manifestations (for example, atopic dermatitis), which, as a rule, are not very well treated, come to the fore. By the way, if a child over a year suddenly has an allergy, most likely, he has got worms.
As for enterobiosis, discomfort in the anus and the external genitalia of girls and all related problems are especially characteristic of it. Due to the “expansion” of pinworms, in the evening the child becomes too excitable, naughty, does not fall asleep, cannot find a place for a long time, turns over.
At night, he screams, wakes up, fidgets, grinds his teeth (if these symptoms are not characteristic of daytime sleep and occur every 10-15 days, you can most likely talk about enterobiasis). Plus, the baby can complain of itching in the crotch area, which is often manifested by too much interest of a very small child to this part of the body, redness in the anus.
And, as mentioned above, in girls enterobiasis may be accompanied by inflammation of the external genital organs.
ATTENTION! Some symptoms occur in about a third of children infected with worms.
However, if the baby does not complain about anything, this does not mean that the parasites have bypassed him: it happens that the worms slowly but surely weaken the child’s body.
We repeat: it is difficult to detect worms. Especially if for this purpose you assign a single analysis to the child. After all, in order to find parasite eggs in the feces, it is necessary that several conditions coincide at once:
- Worms at this point should lay eggs (the interval between egg-laying can be from 3-5 days to 2 weeks);
- it is necessary to investigate precisely the site of feces where the larvae are located;
- helminth eggs still need to be discerned: alas, ascarios and another 2-3 types of helminths are usually recognized in outpatient clinics, while in the middle lane there are at least 20.
With regard to the recent tests for the detection of antibodies to parasites in the blood, they are also not completely reliable. It is believed that by diagnosing only 1 out of 100 cases of infection with worms is detected.
“What to do? – you ask. “Do physicians really have no way to control parasites?” Of course, there is: nowadays, there are safe antihelminthic drugs that kill worms and do not affect the human body. That is why doctors often prescribe worms for children after they show not direct evidence, but indirect signs of the disease.
By the way, according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), all parents twice a year (in spring and late autumn) should carry out preventive treatment for children from 1.5 to 7 years old, even if they have no complaints and symptoms of the disease. If any signs of the appearance of parasites still attract your attention, it is imperative to consult a doctor: it happens that they indicate not only the presence of helminths, but also other ailments.
In the case of the detection of worms, it is not worthwhile to self-medicate: antihelmintic drugs selected without consulting a doctor may prove ineffective.
- Until the baby begins to move around the apartment, ask adults and older children to wash their hands with soap and water before contact with the child or his belongings, after the street or visiting the restroom.
- Do not allow pets to approach the baby.
- When the child begins to crawl or walk around the house, do not let him in the hallway and toilet, do not allow to play with outdoor shoes.
- During the walk, make sure that the baby does not pick up or put objects into his mouth, does not become acquainted with stray animals, and if possible do not let him play in the unfenced sandpits.
- Wean the child from the habit of taking toys in his mouth, licking his fingers, biting his nails.
- Teach a little man to wash his hands with soap after the street and visiting the restroom.
- Do wet cleaning at home using disinfectants. Wash toys with soap, vacuum plush animals and carpets.
- Do not give your child and do not eat unwashed vegetables and fruits, poorly cooked / roasted meat and fish, do not drink raw water from rivers and other water bodies.
- Before eating berries and greens hold in a bowl with water for 10-15 minutes, then rinse them under running water. Wash hard fruits and vegetables with soap.
- Do not allow flies and other insects to food.
Usually infection with worms occurs in the interval from March to November. Alas, because of the freezing of the soil, the helminth eggs do not die, but merely “fall asleep” and become active again after the temperature rises.
That is why it is possible to become infected with worms in the winter, especially if it does not spoil the cold, and there are many homeless animals around.
Is it safe to say that anti-worms drugs are safe? Yes, if the patient complies with the dosages prescribed by the doctor, which, by the way, do not always comply with the instructions of the instructions (for example, they are more than recommended for non-absorbable drugs). However, in response to the reception of funds may occur side effects associated with the destruction of parasites.
It is about diarrhea, slight pain in the abdomen, sometimes vomiting, fever, discomfort in the mouth. However, it is very simple to get rid of these misfortunes: it is enough to give the child activated carbon or lactofiltrum.
There is a list of safe antihelminthic drugs compiled by WHO experts. It includes four drugs that are prescribed to young Russians: Levamisole, Mebendazole, Pyrantel, Albendazole.
Experts have shown that the best results can be achieved with the help of comprehensive courses consisting of two or three drugs.
In some cases, after the detection of worms in a child or someone from family members (especially if it is pinworms or dwarf chain), the whole family should be treated as much as possible. In addition, you will need to boil and iron the bedding and personal linen from both sides.
If ascariasis is found in the child, such measures are not necessary.