It’s probably not something you like to think about very often, but worms can be a common problem – especially in children. Kids are far more likely to pick up a threadworm infection than adults because worms spread easily in places such as schools where groups of people come into contact with each other frequently. Kids also often share food or objects that are easily contaminated with worm eggs and may not wash their hands as regularly as they should. But because worms are highly contagious, if your child gets worms from school, it’s highly likely that other family members at home will become infected too.
The good news is that for most people, threadworms are relatively harmless and don’t cause serious problems. In fact, around 40% of all people don’t even experience any symptoms when they have a threadworm infection. And while threadworms can be easily treated with an over-the-counter medication such as VERMOX®, there are certain times when you should see your doctor or other health professional for medical advice.
Did you know that there are a number of different types of worms that can infect humans? In Australia, threadworms (also called pinworms) are by far the most common cause of worm infections. Hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms are also responsible for worm infections in humans, but these types of worms are usually associated with tropical climates and poor sanitation or hygiene. So while rare, hookworm, roundworm, or whipworm infection can occur in tropical areas in the northern parts of Australia. These types of worm infections may also be brought back by travellers returning from countries where these types of worms are more common.
The same medications that treat threadworms may be prescribed to treat other intestinal worm infections, including roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm. However, the recommended dosage differs depending on the type of worm. So if you suspect you might have a roundworm, whipworm, or hookworm infection, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms and the most appropriate treatment for you.
Treatment for worm infections during pregnancy should always be evaluated by a doctor on an individual basis. In general, treatment for common threadworms should be reserved only for those pregnant women who are experiencing significant symptoms. It is important to discuss treatment with your doctor because certain types of worm medications should be avoided during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester.
Most worm medications appear safe to take when breastfeeding but it’s advisable to talk to your doctor before starting any treatment while you are breastfeeding. The bottom line here is that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and think you have a worm infection, you should always talk to your doctor for advice on the most appropriate action to take.
Worms commonly affect children, so it’s good to know that medications such as VERMOX® are suitable for children 2 years of age and over. When it comes to babies and children under 2 years of age who you think may have a worm infection, always talk to your doctor about appropriate treatment options.
Treatment of threadworm infections with medications such as VERMOX® are highly effective and well-tolerated by most people. Some people, however, may experience continuing or worsening symptoms even with treatment, or some mild side effects from the medication itself. These side effects can include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, these effects can be related to the death of the worms after taking the medication.
You should see your doctor if you or child experience any of the following:
● No improvement in symptoms despite treatment
● New or worsening symptoms (e.g. abdominal pain, low energy levels)
● Side effects from the medication (e.g. nausea, vomiting)
● Large worms passing in the faeces
Absolutely! While threadworm infections are pretty common in Australia, other types of worm infections occur much less frequently here. Talk to your doctor about the most appropriate medication and dosage for treating any worm infection you may have picked up when travelling.
If you experience continuing symptoms of a worm infection even after treatment, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the most appropriate way to manage the infection. Remember that maintaining good hygiene practices when you start worm treatment is vital to prevent the spread of worm eggs and breaking the cycle of contamination and reinfection.
While hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm infections are rare in Australia, they do occur in certain areas and require different treatment than with threadworm infection. So if you are not sure what type of worm has caused your infection, talk to your doctor.
VERMOX is available over the counter at your pharmacy and does not require a prescription. However, you should talk to your pharmacist or doctor before starting the treatment to confirm it’s the most appropriate option for you and your family.