Anthelmintic & Anti-Worm
Equivalent: AliniaGeneric: NitazoxanideManufactured by: Lupin PharmaEquivalent: StromectolGeneric: IvermectinManufactured by: Mankind PharmaEquivalent: StromectolGeneric: IvermectinManufactured by: Mankind PharmaEquivalent: VermoxGeneric: MebendazoleManufactured by: Cipla Inc.Equivalent: Banocide ForteGeneric: DiethylcarbamazineManufactured by: GlaxosmithklineEquivalent: AliniaGeneric: NitazoxanideManufactured by: Lupin Pharma
Worms are parasites that enter the body and are able to live and feed off the person they have entered. The most common worm infection in the UK is threadworms. Medicines to treat worms are sometimes called anthelmintics. Mebendazole (trade names Vermox®, Ovex®) is the most commonly prescribed medicine for worms in the UK.
What are worms?
Worms (sometimes called helminths) are parasites that enter the body and are able to live and feed off the person they have entered. There are many types of worms and they are usually divided into three groups:
- Roundworms - the most common roundworm infections are thought to be caused by threadworms, ascaris, hookworms and trichuris. Roundworm eggs usually enter the body by the person eating food or drinking water that contains eggs. The eggs live and hatch in the gut (intestine).
- Tapeworms - these worms live in the gut. People usually become infected by eating raw or uncooked meat.
- Flukeworms - these worms can live in the blood vessels, gut, lungs or liver. You usually become infected with flukeworms by swimming or washing in fresh water that contains flukeworms. An infection with flukeworms causes a tropical disease called schistosomiasis.
Most worm infections occur in warm tropical countries or developing countries where food and water may not be clean. It is thought that millions of people around the world are infected with worms at any one time. In the UK the most common worm infection is threadworms - this is a type of roundworm and is sometimes referred to as a pinworm. Threadworms are spread by being in contact with someone who is already infected with threadworms. Threadworms can cause an itchy bottom.
What are Anthelmintics?
Anthelmintics are a type of medicine that kills helminths. Helminths are worm-like parasites such as flukes, roundworms, and tapeworms.
It is important that anthelmintics are selectively toxic to the parasite and not the host. Some work by inhibiting metabolic processes that are vital to the parasite but absent or not vital in the host. Other anthelmintics are poorly absorbed through the gut, which means the parasite is exposed to much higher concentrations of the anthelmintic than the host. Starvation or paralysis or the parasite result, followed by subsequent expulsion or digestion.
Is there anything else I need to know about this medicine?
Mebendazole is a type of antihelmintic. This means it is a medicine that kills worms that infect the body. Your child must take the medicine for the number of days that your doctor has told you to, or until all the medicine has been taken. If you stop giving the medicine too soon the worm infection may come back.
Your doctor will probably recommend that all members of the family should be treated on the same day, whether or not they have any symptoms of infection.
To prevent reinfection, it is important that for at least 6 weeks after your child’s infection, all members of the family take extra care to wash their hands, including under the fingernails, before preparing or eating a meal and when using the toilet.
Wear underwear while in bed and wash the bedding regularly.
Take a shower or a bath immediately after waking up in the morning. Do not share towels.
Mebendazole should not be used for children under the age of 2 years.
Mebendazole may harm an unborn baby. If your daughter thinks that she may be pregnant she must talk to her doctor before taking mebendazole.
What if I forget to give it?
If you are giving the medicine twice a day: If you remember up to 4 hours after you should have given a dose, give your child the missed dose. For example, if you usually give a dose at about 7 am, you can give the missed dose at any time up to 11 am. If you remember after that time, do not give the missed dose. Just give the next dose as usual. Make sure you give all of the doses to finish the course of medicine. Never give a double dose of mebendazole.
How do medicines for worms work?
Most medicines used to treat worm infections kill worms by either starving them or paralysing them; for example:
Mebendazole, albendazole and tiabendazole work by preventing the worms from absorbing the sugars they need for survival. They kill the worms but not the eggs.
Praziquantel and ivermectin work by paralysing the worms in the gut (intestine). This allows them to be easily dislodged and removed from the gut in the stools (faeces).
What is the length of treatment?
In general, the length of treatment is usually quite short (at most a few days). This will depend on what type of worm you have and which medicine has been prescribed. For example, for threadworms, mebendazole is usually given as a single one-off dose. This dose may be repeated two weeks later. For whipworm or common roundworm infections, mebendazole is given twice a day for three days.
For threadworms, it is usually advised that everybody in the household be treated if possible.
What about side-effects?
It is not possible to list all the side-effects of these medicines in this leaflet. If you want more information specific to your medicine, see the information leaflet that came with your medicine.
In general, medicines for worms are well tolerated and very rarely cause serious side-effects. The side-effects most commonly reported are tummy upsets such as cramps, wind, diarrhoea and feeling sick (nausea).
Who cannot take medicines for worms?
There are very few people who cannot take a medicine for worms. If for some reason one medicine has caused a side-effect or there is a reason you cannot take one, your doctor will discuss other ways to treat you.
Mebendazole is licensed for adults and for children over the age of 2 years. However, it is used to treat children from the age of 6 months if necessary. Mebendazole is usually avoided if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If treatment in pregnancy is considered to be absolutely necessary it is safest to give it in the second or third trimester.Anthelmintic & Anti-Worm
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