Worms in children: symptoms, treatment, prevention

Infection by helminthic invasions is a very common problem in all countries of the world. Nearly one in three of the planet's inhabitants carries worms, and worms in children are even more common. If we take into account the statistics of just one country, more than two million cases of worms have already been registered. But actually, these numbers are much higher, as people often don't seek medical help but try to get rid of the worms on their own.

And some of the patients are simply not aware of their condition, as the disease is almost asymptomatic. If we draw a parallel between the annual sale of anthelmintic drugs and the country's population, then there are about 22 million patients, of which almost 80% are young children.

To date, medicine is known for over three hundred varieties of worms. Affecting the body, worms, whose symptoms depend on the type of parasite and the number of larvae penetrated, do not always provide a clear picture that indicates the nature of the disease. To suspect a helminth infection, you need to know the signs of the worms and their manifestations, which may indicate the introduction of parasites into your child's body.

The child is concerned about the symptoms of worm infection

Types of worms

All known worms are generally classified into three main groups, these are:

  • Nematodes (round worms). . . The class of parasites most frequently diagnosed in children. The group is represented by types such as:
    • worms,
    • worms,
    • trichinella,
    • whipworms.
  • Cestodes (flat tape parasites), are represented by types such as:
    • wide tape
    • echinococcus (pig tapeworm),
    • dwarf tapeworm (mouse),
    • bovine tapeworm (tapeworm).
  • Trematodes (sucking parasites), the main representatives of this class:
    • liver worm,
    • Siberian (cat) chance.

According to another classification, worms are divided into intestinal and extraintestinal parasites. The first group parasitizes only the intestinal cavity, the second prefers other organs of the human body, eg liver, heart, lungs, muscles, brain. Extraintestinal worms have the ability to penetrate the bloodstream, gnawing the walls of the intestines and blood vessels, and using the blood stream to reach their favorite habitat.

Factors contributing to the infection of children with nematodes

  • Absence of the habit of constantly washing hands after going to the bathroom, after walking, before eating. Even cookies and candies should not be given to a child without first washing their hands.
  • Rare change of underwear. Especially in summer, it is necessary to ensure that the child changes clean bedding at least twice a day. It is important to teach him to go to the bathroom in the morning after bed and at night before going to bed.
  • The habit of taking everything by mouth, sucking fingers, licking toys, pencils and felt-tip pens.
  • The presence of pets at home that go for a walk on the street. Even if the dog is removed on a leash and strictly monitored so that it does not put anything in its mouth, the worm eggs can become attached to the fur.
  • Vegetables and fruits poorly washed before serving.
  • Low standard of living, lack of cleaning in the house, presence of flies, bed bugs and cockroaches.

Causes and Mechanism of Infection in Children with Worms

Of all the types of worms that can inhabit the human body, nematodes are the predominant ones. Basically, the worms in children, whose symptoms are very distinguishable, are worms and roundworms, whipworm is diagnosed much less often. The cases of infection by other species do not exceed 3%. This is because worms and tapeworms are more common in tropical climates and the infestation occurs mainly when visiting countries located in the tropics or subtropical zones.

Furthermore, as ribbon parasites are able to withstand very high temperatures, they are mostly infected by lovers of raw or raw meat and fish dishes. And, of course, it's easy to catch worms if sanitary regulations and personal hygiene rules aren't followed.

The mechanism of infection by roundworms and pinworms is much simpler, but also more common. Disregard regular hand washing, careless handling of raw vegetables, herbs and berries. As well as direct contact with stray animals or worm carriers.

The moth species also increased reinvasion. This means that reinfection occurs frequently, which is carried out in this way:

  • worms cause intense itching in the anus,
  • child, combing the itchy skin,
  • while the moth eggs fall onto the patient's fingers and underwear,
  • in addition, touching doorknobs, faucets and other surfaces, the patient leaves moth eggs on them,
  • the eggs freely penetrate the bodies of the people living with the carrier and again into the patient himself.

The most dangerous places for infection by roundworms and pinworms are:

  • kindergartens,
  • playgrounds,
  • entertainment centers for children.

There is no escaping the fact that every child in the first years of life tries to taste almost anything. This is a natural process of cognition of the surrounding world. And by touching surfaces in crowded places, the baby will certainly put their hands in their mouths, which will cause the worms to enter the body.

In addition, an incompletely formed childhood immune system and the weak protective barriers of an immature digestive tract contribute to infection. The only way to reduce the risk of infection is to constantly force your baby to wash their hands, as this can only become a habit for a four-year-old, and even then it's not for everyone.

To a large extent, increased morbidity in children is facilitated by the blurred manifestation of symptoms and complex diagnostic methods. The clinical picture of the disease may be unclear, short-term, or completely absent. Noticing slight discomfort in a child, few parents suspect worms and immediately consult a doctor. Most will decide they know enough to independently diagnose and prescribe treatment, which eventually leads to the spread of parasites and the infection of others.

Even stool analysis for worm eggs and scraping for enterobiasis does not always give a true picture of the disease. In feces, helminth eggs can be located unevenly and, to capture them, it is necessary to follow rules for removing material for analysis, which not everyone knows. Scraping can also have a negative result, as females do not lay eggs every day, and to get a reliable image, scraping should be performed at least three times at regular intervals.

Symptoms and signs common to all helminths

The penetration of helminthic invasions into the body is not always accompanied by external symptoms. And in most cases, to some extent, the person is not even aware of the presence of parasites in the body. Some types of worms can live inside a person for years without having any negative effects on their well-being and activating their vital activity only under favorable conditions. This can be:

  • weakening of the body from other diseases,
  • a decrease in immune system activity due to the negative effects of the environment,
  • Poor nutrition.

Not long ago, there was a scientific theory about the effect of worms on the occurrence of many internal diseases. Which, however, did not find proper support, but was not refuted either.

But today it has been reliably established that each person carries a certain amount of bacteria, viruses, fungi, including helminths. And parasites don't always behave well with the owner. The constant release of its residues, toxic to humans, gradually lead to the deterioration of the condition and the development of various diseases.

Indicators of suspected active worm activity are symptoms such as:

  • Increased appetite with significant weight loss or loss of appetite and persistent bouts of nausea.
  • Recurrent abdominal pain, violation of stool formation, expressed as constipation or diarrhea, nausea attacks, ending with vomiting, headache and dizziness, which are constant or intermittent.
  • Hypersensitivity of the body to various substances and products.
  • Deterioration of the condition of teeth and nails, increased hair loss due to iron deficiency anemia and chronic vitamin B deficiency12. . .
  • Low resistance to respiratory diseases (adenoids in children) and inflammatory processes in the genitourinary system.
  • Increased irritability and crying, insomnia and interrupted restless sleep, nightmares and unfounded outbursts of anger, distracted attention and constant anxiety - all these indicate the entry into the blood of a large amount of toxic substances produced by the worms.
  • Persistent anemia (low hemoglobin) and high eosinophil counts on a clinical blood test should alert parents and force them to examine the child for worms. One of the most dangerous negative manifestations of the disease is developmental delay.
  • Increased allergic reaction to prophylactic vaccinations.

Pinworm Specific Symptoms

Small but very fast multiplying and tenacious worms - pinworms, cause the development of enterobiasis in children. It is an unpleasant disease, whose main symptom is a severe and unbearable itching in the anus, which intensifies at night.

When a child becomes ill, moth eggs quickly spread to surrounding objects, climbing onto toys, clothes, dishes, and anything else the baby touches. Pinworms feel good outside the human body and are able to withstand the effects of many disinfectants. It is guaranteed to destroy moth eggs only by boiling and radiating ultraviolet rays.

Infection with enterobiasis occurs only through the mouth, when the child puts dirty hands in the mouth or licks infected surfaces. Through the esophagus, pinworms quickly enter the intestines and settle there, growing in two weeks and becoming sexually mature adults.

Intense itching, characteristic of enterobiasis, occurs due to irritation caused by moth eggs. Its nocturnal strengthening is explained by the fact that in dream the anal sphincters relax a little and do not represent an insurmountable obstacle for an adult female, which lays eggs by crawling exclusively to the surface. In one sortie, the moth can lay up to 5, 000 eggs on the skin of the anus.

Irritating to the skin, the worms force the skin to be combed, at this time penetrating under the nails, the skin of the hands, clothes and bedding. In addition to intense itching when infected with worms, the symptoms in children are as follows:

  • Disturbed and restless sleep, often insomnia, nightmares.
  • Stop growing and gain weight, or even lose weight.
  • Increased fatigue, nervousness, overexcitement.
  • Decreased attention and poor assimilation of new things, which leads to a delay in learning.
  • Girls can develop enuresis with irritation of the urethra. This results in involuntary urination at night.
  • In addition, pinworms are able to penetrate the internal genitals, colonize the vaginal cavity (vulvovaginitis), until reaching the uterus and fallopian tubes, bringing infections and causing inflammation.
  • The accumulation of a large colony of moths in the caecum cavity can cause appendicitis.
  • An unconfirmed symptom is teeth grinding at night.
  • Pinworm reproduction contributes to the development of diseases such as:
    • intestinal dysbiosis,
    • enterocolitis,
    • pains of obscure etiology in the abdomen,
    • diarrhea,
    • Constipation.
  • Due to constant intoxication, the intestinal walls stop absorbing nutrients, vitamins and other substances normally, which ends up affecting the decrease in the functioning of the immune system. For this reason, children with moth worms get sick not only often, but also seriously.

Specific symptoms of ascaris (ascariasis)

According to recent research statistics, the picture of worm infection is quite alarming. The results show that more than 80% of preschool-age children have been infected with various types of worms at least once.

Unfortunately, many parents don't consider worms a serious illness and are extremely frivolous about it. But established parasites not only deprive the body of essential nutrients, they are also capable of infecting many internal organs.

The representatives of these parasites are the roundworms, which cause ascariasis, whose symptoms are much more severe than those of pinworms. Although roundworms and moths belong to the same class of worms, roundworms can penetrate and cause serious damage not only to the intestines, but also to other organs, for example:

  • in the liver,
  • in the pancreas,
  • in the heart,
  • in brain tissue,
  • in the gallbladder,
  • in the lungs.

Roundworms only enter the body from the ground, but the triggering factors remain the same as in pinworms, they are:

  • non-compliance with hygiene rules,
  • careless processing of vegetables, fruits and herbs,
  • failure to observe safety rules when working on personal land,
  • unsanitary living conditions.

After entering the body, roundworms adapt for a long time (3 months), mature into mobile larvae, gnaw the walls of the small intestine and blood vessels, and only then begin their migration to the human body's favorite organs.

This period is marked by manifestations such as:

  • an increase in body temperature at night up to 37, 5 ° С;
  • frequent weakness and malaise;
  • dry cough, sometimes accompanied by poorly separated sputum streaked with scarlet blood;
  • the development of obstructive bronchitis, bronchial asthma, pneumonia, or pleurisy is possible;
  • swollen lymph nodes;
  • enlargement of the pancreas and liver.

And the main symptom of primary ascariasis is a rash like urticaria, located on the hands and feet.

The later development of the disease, in which roundworms return to the intestines, is characterized by disorders such as:

  • diarrhea or constipation
  • abdominal cramps,
  • frequent bouts of nausea, sometimes leading to vomiting,
  • flatulence,
  • anus irritation,
  • significant weight loss.

At this stage, in a context of general intoxication, stomatitis and purulent lesions of the skin and mucous membranes often occur. Long-term poisoning by ascaris processing products leads, as a result, to nervous system disorders and mental disorders, which are:

  • insomnia,
  • Nightmares,
  • epileptic seizures,
  • hypotension.

As a complication of ascariasis, these serious and dangerous pathologies develop as:

  • bowel obstruction,
  • acute appendicitis,
  • obstructive jaundice
  • peritonitis.

Specific signs of damage from other types of worms

  1. Vlasoglav (trichocephalosis)- characterized by mild symptoms. Indicators of infection are diarrhea mixed with blood streaks, prolonged constipation, frequent vomiting, often leading to dehydration and anemia. Children with these injuries often lag significantly behind in growth and mental development.

  2. toxocariasis- in most cases, babies up to 4 years old are caught in frequent contact with infected dogs or cats. Allergic reactions manifest as itchy skin, fever and chills, allergic cough (sometimes choking), swollen face, lung masses, swollen lymph nodes, and eye diseases.

  3. dwarf tapeworm (mouse)- causes hymenolepiasis, which is characterized by a latent course without any symptoms. With the development of helminth colonies, the child develops dyspeptic disorders, pain syndrome, increased salivation and frequent headaches. And little by little, all of this translates into diseases such as:

    • urticaria,
    • vasomotor or allergic rhinitis,
    • bronchospasm.
  4. Siberian luck (cat)- opistorchiasis, characteristic symptoms: fever, swollen lymph nodes, skin rash, pain in the right hypochondrium and joints. Complications: dystrophic myocarditis, hepatitis, pneumonia, pancreatitis, severe gastritis.

  5. wide tape- Diphylobotriasis, a disease caused by infection by worms, whose eggs or larvae can remain alive in raw or undercooked meat. It is characterized by intestinal disorders, pain syndrome and B12- deficiency anemia.

Methods to remove worms in children

Currently, the pharmaceutical industry supplies pharmacies with a variety of anthelmintic agents of various types. These can be targeted or broad-spectrum medications. Unfortunately, most of them have a long list of negative side effects on the body. Therefore, if there are worms in a child, only a parasitologist should prescribe the treatment, after a thorough examination and all necessary tests.

Furthermore, the treatment of most worm illnesses requires not only treating worms in children with anthelmintic medications, but also scheduling a course of antihistamines, vitamin therapy, and probiotics.

Antihistamines are needed to normalize the immune response. Vitamins and probiotics restore the loss of essential acids and normalize the intestinal microflora.

Of the medicines with less toxic effect, a medicine with hexahydropyrazine is isolated. Therefore, it is most often recommended when the question is how to get rid of worms in young children. The medicine is specially produced not in tablets, but in suspension or syrup form.

Many parents prefer traditional medications. In fact, pumpkin seeds and garlic enemas have an anthelmintic effect and are often used, for example, to treat ascariasis. But its use does not guarantee a complete cure. Therefore, to rule out a relapse, it is better to take a medicine prescribed by a doctor and fix the result with some popular anthelmintic, otherwise the question of how to remove the worms will be repeated over and over again.

Preventive measures against worm infection

The inevitability of worm penetration into the child's body cannot be taken as an axiom. There are several rules for preventing worms, by following which you can easily protect your baby from this infection:

  • Wash raw vegetables, berries, herbs, and berries thoroughly under running water, then pour boiling water over them.
  • Subject fish and meat dishes to prolonged heat treatment.
  • Do not allow flies, cockroaches, bed bugs and mosquitoes to appear in the apartment or house.
  • All pets must receive anthelmintic medications for prophylaxis.
  • Have the child wash their hands after each contact with animals.
  • Allow the child to play and only use toys and treated objects.
  • From the very first steps, teach the child to wash their hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom, returning from a walk, after outdoor play and before each meal.
  • Never put toys or other objects in your mouth or lick your fingers.
  • Monitor the condition of the child's nails.
  • At night, put your baby's sleepwear on tight to prevent the spread of pinworms.
  • It is advisable not only to boil the children's underwear, but also to iron them on both sides.
  • Teach your baby to change her underwear in the morning and evening. It is advisable for the child to have a separate shelf in the closet, where only their things will be stored.