Worms in children: symptoms, treatment, prevention

Infection with helminthic invasions is a problem that is quite common in all countries of the world. Almost every third inhabitant of the planet is a carrier of worms, and worms in children are even more common. If we take into account the statistics of only one country, more than two million cases of worms have been registered. But in fact, these figures are much higher, since people often do not seek help from doctors, but try to get rid of worms on their own.

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

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

The child is worried about the symptoms of infection with worms

Types of worms

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

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

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

Factors contributing to the infection of children with nematodes

  • Lack of the habit of constantly washing hands after using the restroom, after walking, before eating. Even cookies and sweets should not be given to a child without asking them to wash their hands first.
  • Rare change of underwear. Especially in summer, it is necessary to ensure that the child has a change of clean linen at least twice a day. It is important to teach him to do the morning toilet after sleep, and the evening before going to bed.
  • The habit of taking everything in your mouth, sucking fingers, licking toys, pencils and felt-tip pens.
  • The presence of pets in the house that go for a walk on the street. Even if the dog is taken out on a leash, and strictly monitored so that it does not take anything in its mouth, the eggs of the worms can attach to its fur.
  • Poorly washed vegetables and fruits before serving.
  • Low standard of living, lack of cleanliness in the house, the presence of flies, bedbugs and cockroaches.

Causes and mechanism of infection of children with worms

Of all the types of worms that can inhabit the human body, nematodes are predominant. Basically, worms in children, whose symptoms are well distinguishable, are pinworms and roundworms, whipworm is much less often diagnosed. Cases of infection with other species make up no more than 3%. This is because flukes and tapeworms are more common in tropical climates, and infestation occurs mainly when visiting countries located in the tropics or subtropical zones.

In addition, since tape parasites are able to withstand quite high temperatures, they are mainly infected by lovers of uncooked or raw meat and fish dishes. And, of course, it is easy to catch worms if sanitary norms and rules of personal hygiene are not followed.

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

The pinworm species also has increased reinvasion. This means that re-infection often occurs, which is carried out in this way:

  • pinworms cause severe itching of the anus,
  • child, combing itchy skin,
  • while pinworm eggs fall on the patient's fingers and underwear,
  • further, touching door handles, taps, and other surfaces, the patient leaves pinworm eggs on them,
  • eggs freely penetrate into the body of people living with the carrier and again to the patient himself.

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

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

There is no escape from the fact that every child in the first years of life tries to taste almost everything. This is a natural process of cognition of the surrounding world. And touching surfaces in crowded places, the baby will certainly pull his hands into his mouth, which will cause the worms to enter the body.

In addition, an incompletely formed children's immune system and 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 in a child by the age of four, and even then not for everyone.

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

Even the analysis of feces for worm eggs and scraping for enterobiasis does not always give a real picture of the disease. In the feces, helminth eggs can be unevenly located, and in order to capture them, it is necessary to follow the rules for taking material for analysis, which not everyone knows. Scraping can also show a negative result, since females do not lay eggs every day, and to obtain a reliable picture, scraping must be performed at least three times at regular intervals.

Common symptoms and signs of all helminths

The penetration of helminthic invasions into the body is not always accompanied by external symptoms. And in most cases, up to a certain point, a person does not notice the presence of parasites in the body at all. Some types of worms can live inside a person for years without exerting any negative effect on his well-being, and activating their vital activity only under favorable conditions. This could be:

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

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

But today it has been reliably established that each person is the carrier of a certain amount of bacteria, viruses, fungi, including helminths. And parasites do not always behave good-neighborly towards the owner. The constant release of their waste products, which are toxic to humans, gradually leads to a deterioration in the condition and the development of various diseases.

Indicators for suspicion of active activity of worms 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 in constipation or diarrhea, bouts of nausea, ending with vomiting, headaches 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 of the genitourinary system.
  • Increased irritability and tearfulness, insomnia and restless interrupted sleep, nightmares and groundless outbursts of anger, distracted attention and constant anxiety - all this indicates the entry into the blood of a large amount of toxic substances produced by worms.
  • Persistent anemia (low hemoglobin) and high eosinophil counts in a clinical blood test should alert parents and force them to check the child for worms. One of the most dangerous negative manifestations of the disease is developmental delay.
  • Increased allergic reaction to prophylactic vaccinations.

Specific symptoms of pinworms

Small, but very rapidly multiplying and tenacious worms - pinworms, provoke the development of enterobiasis in a child. This is an unpleasant disease, the main symptom of which is severe, unbearable itching in the anus, which intensifies at night.

When a child becomes ill, pinworm eggs quickly spread to surrounding objects, get on toys, clothes, dishes, and everything that the baby touches. Pinworms feel great outside the human body and are able to withstand the effects of many disinfectants. It is guaranteed to destroy pinworm eggs only by boiling and irradiation with ultraviolet rays.

Infection with enterobiasis occurs only through the mouth, when a child takes dirty hands in his mouth or licks infected surfaces. Through the esophagus, pinworms quickly penetrate the intestines and settle there, growing in two weeks into adult sexually mature individuals.

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

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

  • Disturbed, restless sleep, often insomnia, nightmares.
  • Stopping growth and gaining weight, or even losing weight.
  • Increased fatigue, nervousness, overexcitation.
  • Decreased attention and poor assimilation of new things, which leads to a lag in learning.
  • Girls may develop enuresis with irritation of the urethra. This results in involuntary urination at night.
  • In addition, pinworms are able to penetrate the internal genital organs, colonize the vaginal cavity (vulvovaginitis), even reach the uterus and fallopian tubes, bringing with them infection and causing inflammation.
  • The accumulation of a large colony of pinworms in the cavity of the cecum can provoke appendicitis.
  • An unconfirmed symptom is teeth grinding at night.
  • Reproduction of pinworms contributes to the development of diseases such as:
    • intestinal dysbiosis,
    • enterocolitis,
    • pains of unclear etiology in the abdomen,
    • diarrhea,
    • constipation.
  • Due to constant intoxication, the intestinal walls cease to normally absorb nutrients, vitamins and other substances, which ultimately affects the decrease in the functioning of the immune system. For this reason, children with pinworm worms get sick not only often, but also severely.

Specific symptoms of ascaris (ascariasis)

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

Unfortunately, many parents do not perceive worms as a serious disease and are extremely frivolous about it. But the settled parasites not only deprive the body of the necessary nutrients, but are also capable of infecting many internal organs.

Representatives of such parasites are roundworms, which cause ascariasis, the symptoms of which are much more severe than those of pinworms. Despite the fact that roundworms and pinworms belong to the same class of worms, roundworms can penetrate and cause serious damage not only in the intestines, but also in other organs, for example:

  • on the liver,
  • in the pancreas,
  • on the heart,
  • in the tissues of the brain,
  • in the gallbladder,
  • in the lungs.

Roundworms enter the body only from the soil, but the provoking factors remain the same as in pinworms, these are:

  • non-observance of hygiene rules,
  • careless processing of vegetables, berries and herbs,
  • non-observance of safety rules when working on a personal plot,
  • unsanitary living conditions.

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

This period is marked by such manifestations as:

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

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

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

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

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

  • insomnia,
  • nightmares,
  • epileptic seizures,
  • hypotension.

As a complication of ascariasis, such severe and dangerous pathologies develop as:

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

Specific signs of damage by 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 such lesions usually lag significantly behind in growth and mental development.

  2. Toxocariasis- in most cases, babies up to 4 years old are picked up with frequent contact with infected dogs or cats. Allergic reactions manifest as itchy formations on the skin, fever and chills, allergic cough (reaching suffocation), swollen face, lung masses, swollen lymph nodes, and eye diseases.

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

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

  5. Wide ribbon- diphyllobothriasis, a disease caused by infection with tapeworms, the eggs or larvae of which may remain alive in raw meat or insufficiently cooked meat. It is characterized by intestinal disorders, pain syndrome and B12- deficiency anemia.

Methods for removing worms in children

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

Moreover, the treatment of most diseases caused by worms requires not only the treatment of worms in children with antihelminthic drugs, but also the appointment of 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 drugs with the least toxic effect, the drug with hexahydropyrazine is isolated. Therefore, it is more often recommended when the question is how to get rid of worms in young children. The drug is specially produced not in tablets, but in the form of a suspension or syrup.

Many parents prefer traditional medicines. Indeed, pumpkin seeds and garlic enemas have an anthelmintic effect and are often used, for example, to treat ascariasis. But their use does not guarantee a complete cure. Therefore, to exclude a relapse, it is better to take a medication prescribed by a doctor and fix the result with any folk anthelmintic drug, otherwise the question of how to remove the worms will be constantly repeated.

Preventive measures against infection with worms

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

  • Thoroughly rinse raw vegetables, berries, herbs and fruits under running water, and then pour boiling water over them.
  • Subject fish and meat dishes to prolonged heat treatment.
  • Do not allow flies, cockroaches, bedbugs and mosquitoes to appear in the apartment or house.
  • All pets should be regularly given anthelmintic drugs for prophylaxis.
  • Get the child to wash their hands after each contact with animals.
  • Allow the child to play and use only treated toys and objects.
  • From the first steps, teach the child to wash his hands with soap and water after the restroom, upon returning from a walk, after outdoor games and before each meal.
  • Never pull toys or other objects into your mouth, or lick your fingers.
  • Monitor the condition of the child's nails.
  • At night, put your baby on tight nightwear to prevent the spread of pinworms.
  • It is advisable not only to boil children's underwear, but also to iron it on both sides.
  • Teach your baby to change underwear in the morning and in the evening. It is advisable that the child has a separate shelf in the closet where only his things will be stored.