Young children are prone to a variety of infections, one of which is intestinal parasites. Though adults are not spared, it is children who are the most affected, because cleanliness is not readily acceptable to them. While playing they come in contact with contaminated mud and other filthy things. Putting their fingers in their mouth invites the chances of infection because the parasites lay eggs in the mud. Fingernails are the easy source for the infection. Handling pet animals is another cause.
There are several types of worms among which round worm, hook worm, pin worm and thread worm are the most common. Tape worms in various forms infect those who are meat eaters because it is contracted through the animal meat.
All shapes and sizes
Once the eggs of the round worm find entry into the mouth they migrate to the stomach and small intestine. They hatch, grow and settle in the intestine. They sometimes migrate to other digestive tracts and are expelled through vomiting.
When the immature worms become mobile, symptoms arise in the form of fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Children grind their teeth often.
Hook worms dwell in the intestine. Their mouth being like that of a hook and their teeth sharp they cling to the walls of the intestine to puncture the blood vessels and feed on the blood.
Their eggs are excreted with the stools. The eggs hatch outside the body. When bare hands or feet come in contact with contaminated earth, young worms enter the body through the skin and are carried through the blood vessels to the lungs. Once they get to the throat they are readily swallowed and enter the stomach. Finally they settle in the intestine.
When the penetration of the skin takes place, itching and burning are experienced and in later stages there may be eruptions and crusts. As the parasites grow in the intestine, the functions of the internal organs are disrupted to the extent of causing diarrhea, headache, loss of appetite, constant uneasiness in the abdomen, lethargy, breathlessness, rapid weight loss and anemia.
Pinworm infection causes no severe symptom other than itching in the anus and great hunger. The infection easily spreads to others by the handling of food items with infected fingers. Scratching of the anus followed by touching of food with unwashed fingers makes the infection spread. The eggs hatch near the anus and the worms re-enter the rectum through the anus. If the skin around the anus is not cleansed thoroughly and kept dry, reinfection is encouraged.
General instructions to combat worms
Cleanliness and hygiene must be observed meticulously by adults, and also taught to children. Wash hands before eating and handling food items, keeping the finger nails cut and trim.
Apple, pineapple, papaya, carrots, tomatoes and other fresh green vegetables must be included abundantly in daily food. Asafetida has the power to act on worms; so inclusion of asafetida liberally in food helps expel worms.
Treatment for worms
- Hip bath alternating with hot and cold water.
- Warm water enema daily for a few days.
- Heating compress on the abdomen at bed time. It must be removed in the morning.
Household remedies for worms
- Soak a teaspoon of powdered bishop weed (ajwain) in two glasses of water overnight. Boil and cool it in the morning. Divide it into two portions and take twice, upon rising and at bed time.
- Chew three to four cloves of garlic with honey once in the morning for two weeks to expel worms.
- Powder a few dried lemon seeds. Take a small pinch of this powder with warm water twice daily for some days at a stretch.
- Half a glass of the juice of mint leaves should to be taken in the morning on an empty stomach, for eight days regularly.
- Chew two or three walnuts (akhrot) and take a glass of unsweetened milk regularly for fifteen days.
- Leaves and oil of neem have the properties to expel worms; Two drops of neem oil in some milk given for a week at bedtime destroys and expels worms.