Helminthiasis is a parasitic disease that is especially common in children. If worms appeared in one of the organs or systems of the child's body, then their negative impact will not only affect its functioning, but also affect the work of the immune and nervous systems. Symptoms such as cough, lack of appetite, indigestion, an allergic reaction may be accompanied by other unrelated symptoms. If you suspect a helminthic invasion, it is important to immediately contact a specialist, and not self-medicate.
Why is helminthiasis dangerous?
Most of the helminthiases of the species that are most common in children parasitize in the intestines. In it they live and feed, as a result of which they reproduce and release toxins. Parasitic worms also mechanically affect the walls of the intestine. The consequence of the active life of worms in the body of a child can be:
- Avitaminosis and weight loss. These problems arise due to a lack of nutrients and vitamins. As a result, children begin to lag behind in development. Pathological processes can begin in other organs.
- Inflammation in the intestines, colitis, dysbacteriosis, bleeding. All these unpleasant and serious complications are caused by mechanical damage caused by worms in children in the body.
- The development of inflammatory processes in the appendix, liver, gallbladder. These are organs adjacent to the intestines into which parasites can move.
- Intestinal obstruction. It can be partial or complete, and sometimes there is a risk of rupture of the intestinal wall.
- body intoxication. When worms live and die inside a person, they release aggressive toxins.
- Allergy. Waste products of parasites are considered strong allergens.
- Violation in the functioning of the liver. For this reason, the child has to follow a diet for many years and additionally consume enzymes.
- Psychosis. Helminths tend to have a negative impact on the nervous system of the patient.
Types of worms that affect the body of a child
There are many types of parasites that can appear in a child's body. They vary in size, being both small and large, and also manifest themselves in different ways and have a different incubation period, which ranges from 1–1. 5 months. In order to prescribe effective drugs that will help cure helminthiases, you need to correctly determine their type. The most common types in children are:
- Tape. This type of worm includes cestodes, pygmy tapeworm, tapeworm and echinococcus.
- Ringed. Among them are the annelids.
- Round. Their representatives are trichinella, pinworms, whipworms, nematodes, roundworms.
- Prickly-headed. They are represented by scrapers.
- Flat. Among them are trematodes and flukes.
Causes and methods of infection
It is possible to become infected with helminthiasis not only in an exotic country or by trying an unusual dish on the menu. Playing in the sandbox and unwashed hands are the easiest way for worms to enter the child's body. Toddlers tend to touch and study everything, without thinking about the purity of the subject being studied. After that, they can safely lick their fingers without washing them first. Worms remain viable for a very long time (from weeks to months), remaining on the surface of various objects.
In addition to dirty hands, the main sources of infection include:
- dirty toys and surfaces;
- railings at the entrance;
- raw water;
- dirty vegetables and fruits;
- soil, earth, sand;
- contact with a sick child;
- insufficiently well-done meat;
- poorly thermally processed fish or other seafood.
Symptoms of the presence of parasites in children
Usually in children under 1 year of age, any manifestations of the presence of parasites in the body are observed in isolated cases. The first symptoms that signal an infection with helminths are recorded already at an older age (about 2-3 years) in children attending a kindergarten or other developing organizations.
Helminthiases in children are represented by a huge variety, and each individual type has its own specific characteristics. However, there are a number of symptoms that are characteristic of any type of worms:
- irritability and moodiness for no apparent reason;
- restless sleep;
- itching in the anus;
- increased secretion of saliva;
- disturbed digestion, accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, nausea and bloating;
- lack of appetite;
- weight loss with good nutrition;
- pallor of the skin.
In adult children, these symptoms may include:
- discomfort in the stomach;
- increased fatigue;
- poor concentration.
A disease when such parasites as pinworms enter the child's body is called enterobiasis. This type of helminth is one of the most common in young children of preschool age - from 2 to 5 years. They differ in medium-sized sizes, which are 5-13 mm, and minimal harm compared to other types of parasites.
Their presence causes the following symptoms:
- Violent itching in the anus. Its intensity can reach such strength that the child will not sleep well, scratching the anus, causing irritation and inflammation.
- Urinary incontinence during night sleep. Seen in girls. This happens if pinworms from the anus enter the urethra. As a result, the baby begins to develop urethritis, vaginitis or cystitis.
Pinworms are easy to get rid of and are not as dangerous as other types of worms. It is important in time, when the first signs appear, to consult a doctor and pass the necessary tests. If pinworms were found in a child, then parents also need treatment. All clothes, towels and other rags should be washed and ironed, and the room thoroughly washed, since the eggs of these worms are found on all surfaces in the infected person's house.
The second most common in children are roundworms of large sizes up to 40 cm, living in the small intestine - roundworms. In addition to the general symptoms of helminthiasis, in the case of ascaris, an infected person at the initial stage develops an unreasonable cough in the absence of any inflammatory processes in the respiratory tract. Its appearance is due to the fact that the larvae of this type of parasites enter the lungs and upper respiratory tract, and through coughing they re-enter the stomach.
Other characteristic features include:
- headache and dizziness;
- enlarged lymph nodes;
- elevated temperature;
- intestinal disorders.
At the same time, itching in the buttocks with roundworms is absent. Not only the intestines, but also any other organ or system of the body can become a habitat.
These parasites in children are worms with a very thin body, the length of which reaches 5 cm. The female whipworm can lay up to 2 thousand eggs at a time. Usually, such helminths are more common in adolescence, and in young children they appear much less frequently.
A distinctive feature of trichuriasis is the almost complete absence of any signs of helminthic invasion. Possible symptoms include:
- disturbances in the work of the nervous system (irritability, headaches);
- problems with the digestive system, accompanied by diarrhea, nausea or vomiting;
- increase in body temperature.
Signs of other parasites
Among other types of worms that can occur in children, the following can be distinguished:
- Hymenolepiasis or pygmy rat tapeworm. He has no specific symptoms. Its presence can be recognized by nausea, loss of appetite, heartburn, diarrhea and constipation, headache, pain in the abdomen, increased salivation, dizziness, fatigue, skin rashes, allergic rhinitis and bronchospasm.
- Opisthorchiasis or feline Siberian fluke. These worms in a child cause subfebrile temperature, rashes on the skin, swollen lymph nodes, pain in the joints and right hypochondrium, pancreatitis, gastritis and other signs of malfunction of the digestive tract, permanent catarrhal syndrome and more.
- Toxocariasis. Transmitted through animals. The main symptoms are an allergic cough with choking and skin rashes, which are characterized by severe itching.
- Wide ribbon. The source of infection is not fried or not boiled fish. Symptoms include abdominal pain, an allergic reaction, B12 deficiency anemia, and other common signs of a bowel disorder.
How to check if your child has worms?
In most cases, it is difficult for parents to associate specific symptoms with helminthiasis or understand why a child suddenly has vomiting or other symptoms for no apparent reason. At the slightest suspicion of the appearance of worms, one should go to specialists and take tests, which make it easy to check the assumption of helminthic invasion. It will not take much time and effort, but the reason for the baby’s ailment will be exactly clear and it will be possible to carry out treatment in a timely manner.
Self-diagnosis is a careful monitoring of changes in behavior, development, habits, routine and normal state of the child - both physical and emotional-psychological.
- periodic examination of feces for the presence of worms;
- monitoring the frequency of visiting the toilet;
- examining the skin for rashes, redness, or irritation;
- checking the amount of food consumed.
Medical diagnosis is necessary to confirm the diagnosis if the worms were detected visually, or only if a helminthic invasion is suspected. To find out the cause of the symptoms, you need to take a series of tests, which include:
- Fecal analysis. In it, you can find eggs or parts of already ripe worms. The effectiveness of the method is maximum during the period when there are already mature individuals in the intestine, i. e. approximately 3 weeks to a month after infection. Fecal material should be collected in the morning and sent to the laboratory.
- A smear or scraping from the anus. To do this, use a dry cotton swab dipped in glycerin, or adhesive tape. The analysis allows you to identify the worm larvae that were deposited on the skin areas in the anus.
- General blood analysis. Patients with helminthiasis in the blood may have an increased number of immune cells, a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate and a reduced level of hemoglobin.
- ELISA blood test. Allows you to detect parasites at an early stage with the help of staining enzymes that attract worms, viruses and other foreign bodies.
Additional tests for parasites in a child that may be done in an outpatient setting include:
- analysis for the presence of IgG antibodies;
- ultrasound procedure;
Features of drug treatment
The appointment of medications to combat parasites in a child must be dealt with by a doctor after passing all the required tests and establishing an accurate diagnosis and type of worms. Among the most common drugs against helminthic invasion, it should be noted:
- Anthelmintic drug acting on nematodes. Acceptance is allowed from 6 months. Effective against all types of roundworms, but useless in the case of flat parasites.
- Anthelmintic drug of the benzimidazole group. Appointed from 2-3 years. The dosage is determined at the rate of 10 mg per kilogram of body weight.
- Antiprotozoal and antimicrobial drug from the group of nitroimidazoles. Suitable for any age according to which the daily dose is determined.
- Antihelminthic drug of the benzimidazole group. For children from 2 years old against roundworms.
What folk remedies can help?
In addition to medications, worms can be treated with folk remedies.
The most popular products that can provide effective treatment for worms in children are:
- Garlic. Successfully destroys roundworms, tapeworms, pinworms and copes with many other varieties of parasites. Suitable for children from 5 years of age and with a healthy stomach. It should be given 1 clove before meals once a day. Can be taken with water or milk. Garlic is also an excellent antiviral agent.
- Pumpkin seeds. They should be eaten on an empty stomach and raw. Usually children like this treatment. Otherwise, they can be crushed and mixed with honey if the child is not allergic to honey.
- Sagebrush. Allowed for children from 12 years old. To simplify the reception, it should be mixed with a piece of bread and salt.
- Fresh carrot juice. Enough half a cup on an empty stomach once a day for 7-10 days. You can also nibble raw carrots.
- Beet juice. It is given on an empty stomach. It is advisable to alternate it with carrots, so as not to provoke a violation of the stool.
- Walnuts. A few pieces a day will be enough for a child.
- A pineapple. Fresh, not canned fruit is a tasty and effective remedy.
- citruses. To their "company" you can add berries and fruits with a sour taste.
Regardless of the type of worms, prevention comes down to observing the basic rules of personal hygiene:
- Washed food. All vegetables, fruits and berries should be washed well before eating. As an additional measure, products can be doused with boiling water.
- Clean hands. You need to wash them before eating, after walking, visiting the hospital and staying in public places, after going to the toilet and playing with animals, even pets.
- Deworming of pets. It must be done at least 2 times a year.
- Boiled or filtered water for drinking. It is forbidden to drink water from open reservoirs. Swimming in them should also be avoided to prevent splashing water from entering the mouth. Salt lakes and seas are an exception.
- Regular prevention with the help of folk remedies.
- Caring for old and new toys. Soft toys should be washed periodically, plastic and plastic ones should be washed with boiled water. New ones, before giving to a child, should be poured over with boiling water without fail.
- No insects! Flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches carry helminth eggs on their paws. It is important to prevent them from entering the house. To do this, you can use fumigators, sticky tapes and special crayons.
- Exclusion from the child's diet of fish and meat dishes that require low-roasting of animal products.
- Stool analysis once a year. This procedure will help to detect worms at an early stage.