Anthelminthics are drugs that are used to eliminate the many types of worm (helminthes) that can enter the body and live there as parasites, producing a general weakness in some cases and serious harm in others. The body may be host to many different worms. Most species spend part of their life cycle in another animal, and the infestation is often passed on to humans in food contaminated with the eggs or larvae. In some cases, such as hookworm, larvae enter the body through the skin. Larvae or adults may attach themselves to the intestinal wall and feed on the bowel contents; others feed off the intestinal blood supply, causing anemia. Worms can also infest the bloodstream or lodge in the muscles or internal organs.
Many people have worms at some time during their life, especially during childhood. Most infestations can be effectively eliminated with anthelminthic drugs.
Why They are Used
Most worms cause only mild symptoms and usually do not pose a serious threat to general health. Anthelminthic drugs are usually necessary, however, because the body's natural defenses against infection are not effective against most worm infestations. Certain types of infestation must always be treated since they can cause serious complications. In some cases, such as threadworm infestation, doctors may recommend
Anathematic treatment for the whole family to prevent reinfection. If worms have invaded tissues and formed cysts, they may have to be removed surgically. Laxatives are given with some anthelminthics to hasten expulsion of worms from the bowel. Other drugs may be prescribed to ease symptoms or to compensate for any blood loss or nutritional deficiency.
Types of Infestation
Threadworm (Enterobiasis): The most common worm infection, especially among young children. It lives in the intestine but travels to the anus at night to lay eggs, causing itching; scratching leaves eggs on the fingers, usually under the fingernails. Sucking the fingers or eating food with unwashed hands often transfers these eggs to the mouth. Keeping the nails short and good hygiene, including washing the hands after using the toilet and before each meal, and an early morning bath to remove the eggs, are important in eradication of the infection.
Friday, May 25, 2007