Intestinal parasites that may infect children come in two varieties: protozoa and helminthes. Protozoa are single-celled worms. They are able to multiply inside the human body and can be a major cause of infection. Helminthes are multi-celled organisms, the most common forms being pinworms and tapeworms. Helminthes are unable to multiply within the human body. Children usually contract intestinal parasites when they come into contact with contaminated earth, water, feces or food. Intestinal parasites in children can be treated with a range of herbs, homeopathy treatments, nutritional supplements, and over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Intestinal parasites can cause a wide range of symptoms, including diarrhea, loss of appetite, joint pain, mucus in stools, fever, listlessness, foul-smelling stools, stomach cramps, coughing and vomiting. If you suspect your child may be suffering from intestinal parasites, collect a sample of her feces in a small, sealable plastic container and take it to your family practitioner for testing.
If the test results are positive, the doctor will prescribe a medication to kill the parasites. According to World Health Organization recommendations, the medications Mebendazole and Albendezole are suitable for children less than 2 years old and above. The medications Prazinquantel and Invermectin are suitable for children who are at least 2 years old. The drug that your doctor prescribes will depend on the type of parasitic worm infection your child has. The doses will vary depending on the type of medication. Some drugs, such as Mebendazole, are only taken for three days while others, such as Albendezole, are taken over the course of 28 days.
After getting treatment for intestinal parasites, if you child is older than 2 years, you may want to consider giving her a probiotic supplement in the form of powder or drink to boost the formation of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. This will aid digestion and boost the immune system.
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To avoid intestinal parasites in children, make sure they wash their hands regularly. All family members should wash their hands before preparing food. Children's fingernails should be kept short and free from dirt.
A combination of the herbal tinctures wormwood and black walnut is often recommended as a treatment for intestinal parasites, but these herbs are not known to be safe for children.