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Antihelminthic drugs

Antihelminthic drugs are those which are used to treat the infection caused by helminths or worms. The infection caused by worms is most common and serious in poor or developing countries. The distribution of these diseases is determined by factors like climate, hygiene, diet, and exposure to vectors. ‘Helminths’ is a word that is derived from the Greek language where the word means “worms”. These are a multicellular eukaryotic animal living free in soil and water having digestive, circulatory, nervous, excretory, and reproductive systems. 

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There are two major forms of helminths:

Nematodes also known as roundworm consist of:

• Major intestinal worms also known as soil-transmitted helminths
• Filarial worms that cause lymphatic filariasis (LF) and onchocerciasis

Platyhelminths also known as flatworm comprises of

• Flatworms include the flukes such as trematodes
• Tapeworm also known as the cestodes such as the pork tapeworm that causes cysticercosis

The most common helminthiasis is that caused by infection with intestinal helminths, ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm, followed by schistosomiasis and LF.

Causes of parasitic worm infections /helminthiasis:

The helminth eggs enter the body through various transmission routes. It is a contagious infection that can be caught by various things such as food, water, air, pets and toilet seats. Once it enters the body, it will hatch itself and keeps on multiplying.

In developing countries, there are poor sanitation conditions as people defecate in public streams and water sources. So this leads to increased spreading of parasitic worms. Substandard housing, homelessness, and drug use all lead to the same unsanitary conditions that cause helminth infections.

Signs and Symptoms:

Symptoms vary on the type of infection. Some of the commonly experienced symptoms by a patient are as follows:

• Subcutaneous nodules
• Conjunctivitis
• Retinitis
• Diarrhea
• Blindness
• Urticaria
• Cough
• Fever
• Abdominal pain

Adverse effects of the problem:

Some relentless symptoms are seen in very severe worm infections, and they are:

• Pain in muscles or joints
• Having skin irritation
• Grinding of teeth during sleep
• Food poisoning
• Stiff bowel due to unrestrained worm growth inside it

Preventive measures:

You can do the following:

• Don’t come in contact with soil or infected water directly
• Don’t come in contact with soil having remains of human faecal matter
• Take extra care of children
• Good hygiene and sanitization practise
• Wear footwears and never walk bare foot
• Clean vegetables before cooking

Common Antihelminthics:

Some common antihelminthic drugs available on our website are:

• Yomesan
• Nizonide
• Banocide forte
• Member
• Zentel
• Distocide etc.

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Myths and facts:

Myth: Unhygienic is the only way to get infected

Fact: An easy way to get infected is being dirty and but if a clean person comes in direct contact with infected surface then also worm infection can take place

Myth: adults do not get helminthiasis, only children does

Facts: Most common sufferers of worm infection are small kids, but adults have also some chances of getting infected with worms if they come in direct contact with infected things.

Diagnosis of parasitic worm infections:

In heavy infestation, worm could be found out while coughing and vomit, and it comes through another opening like mouth or nostrils. A stool test would be done to find worms in the stool after two months of its ingestion. If you are infected with male worm, there would not be any egg. Then a blood test can also be done to find the presence of increased number of white blood cells called eosinophils. Abdominal X-rays can also be used to detect the disease.The heavy infection can also be determined by placing a still camera inside our body known as endoscopy.

Treatment for parasitic worm infections:

Drug therapy

Antihelminthics are drugs that are used to treat infections with parasitic worms. It includes flatworms, tapeworms and round worm’s infestation. They act by damaging or killing directly the worm. Some paralyze the worm and interferes with the metabolism:

• Albendazole, Thiabendazole & Mebendazole – they act by paralyzing the parasitic worm by preventing microtubule polymerization and make it unable to reproduce. It shows rapid absorption and is excreted in urine. It is contraindicated in pregnancy, liver and renal insufficiency. It is recommended in nematode infections such as hookworm, trichinella spiral. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are the common associated side effects.
• Praziquantel –is given in Schistosoma as it contracts the parasites and makes them paralyzed. It is well absorbed orally and is contraindicated in Ocular cysticercosis. It is given in trematodes and cestodes infections
• Ivermectin – is usually extracted from the soil of actinomycete Streptomyces avermitilis. It has antinematodal activity and interferes with the neural transmission of parasite and hinders its infestation process. It is used in the treatment of scabies and several parasitic nematodes and river blindness
• Diethylcarbamazine – inhibits the acetylcholine transmission and paralysis the worm thus reduces the ability of larvae to remain intact on the host. The worm is expelled through a peristaltic activity of host. It shows excellent oral absorption and gets widely distributed in the body compartments including the brain. It is contraindicated in patients with chronic brain disorders and case of impaired and renal failure. It is a drug of choice for filariasis and is given in round and pinworm infections
• Niclosamide: the energy factory of the parasitic worms is destroyed with this drug, but it has a few sideeffects like nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea
• Nitazoxanide - is a pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase inhibitor, and acts as a broad spectrum of protozoa and helminths in intestinal tract infections.

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Steps to improve the health:

One of the best ways to get rid of undigested waste in the body is maintaining personal hygiene. There is an utmost need to keep your internal system clean. Wash hands before eating, avoid eating raw fish and meat and take good healthy diet. There are natural ways, by which one can detoxify the waste in our body such as intake of garlic relieves Ascaris; pumpkin seeds help in a cleaning of the gastrointestinal tract.

Drinking purified water and a healthy diet is the way to clean your system. Eat food rich in Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) which helps in healing of infected intestine and balances the bacteria in your body.

Diets that contain Probiotics are as follows:

• Yogurt
• Olives
• Miso soup
• Kimchi salad
• Milk
• Olives
• Soy milk
• Fermented tea

Important thing to know:

Ascariasis, Trichuriasis, Hookworm, Enterobiasis, Strongyloidiasis, Filariasis And Trichinosis, these are the names of a few helminthic those are known to cause health issues. About 60 species of roundworms parasitize humans. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2005 about 0.807-1.221 billion humans had Ascariasis.