Monday, July 31, 2017

WHAT'UP DOC: No matter how clean you are, take anti-worms

Dr Syriacus Buguzi

Dr Syriacus Buguzi 

By Dr Syriacus Buguzi

However clean you might be, you are likely to acquire parasites. And, if you are living in Tanzania, human parasites such as hookworms, tapeworms and whip-worms are almost inevitable.

 These parasitic worms usually spread to humans through unhygienic practices and poor sanitation.

 What happens is that the eggs from these worms are excreted in human faeces, which later contaminate the areas that lack adequate sanitation.

Then, one gets infected by either eating food or using utensils which are contaminated with the faeces or if one washes fruits by contaminated water.

In this case, if you walk on bare feet, forget to wash your hands thoroughly before meals, eat unwashed salad or eat undercooked meat—you are a candidate for attacks by worms.

 The chances of these parasites creeping inside bodies are very high, hence, the need for regular deworming. Now, the question to you is:  Do you often deworm? Or if you are a parent, do you care to deworm your children?

 Quite often, pre-school children suffer from worm infestation—you will hear then complain of stomachache or they’ll lose food appetite.

 And when the condition has worsened, their stomachs may swell and they could not go to the toilet—at this point, the intestines could have become blocked by worms.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that globally, 1.5 billion people have roundworms, making it the third most common human infection in the world.

In Tanzania, doctors advise that you should take anti-worm medication at least twice a year because these worms—mainly transmitted through soils, are very prevalent in our settings.

WHO recommends periodic treatment with anthelminthic (deworming) medicines, even if you don’t have any symptoms that show you have been affected by the worms.

And, it’s usually more appropriate if the whole family gets the medication, otherwise, they could be re-infected.

The bad thing about these worms is that they feed on your intestines and this may lead to blood loss and anaemia, deficiency of iron and proteins. They may cause abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and dysentery.

They also cause deficiency of Vitamin A. Furthermore, they cause loss of appetite, thereby leading to reduced food intake, poor physical growth especially in children.

And in the case of children, the worms could adversely affect cognitive development. Later in life, the affected children may not be able to concentrate in class.