Living in Vietnam; travelling through Asia; enjoying street food; children and play dates; family pets — these all mean that at one time you will have to research and ask for assistance regarding worms.


People can become infected with a variety of worms such as roundworms, hookworms, thread worm and tapeworms.

 

Nearly half the world's population — more than 3 billion people — are infected with at least one of the three main parasites — large roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. They all wriggle, look like white cotton thread and hatch eggs in the host.

 

Their Favourite Places

 

Air. Some worm eggs are so small and light they can be carried through the air by high wind and then can become attached to an unsuspecting host.

 

Food. Fruit and vegetables can be grown near or in contaminated soil; then picked by people who have contaminated soil on their hands.

 

Ground. Worms can enter the body through the feet; a healthy foot or a cut foot will give parasites a chance. If you walk barefoot anywhere there are animal faeces, a swampy moist area, puddles, a dirty locker room or dirty beaches, you could become infected
Animals. Family pets need to be wormed regularly, as they can easily become hosts; by walking through infected areas; eating soil infected with worms' eggs, suckling contaminated mothers and eating infected animals.

 

Signs of Worms within a Human Body

 

There are many symptoms you can experience as a result of worms and parasites. These include:

 

Chronic fatigue, depression, lethargy, irritability, insomnia, always hungry, teeth grinding while sleeping, craving sugar and starchy carbohydrate foods, aching and swollen joints, food sensitivities, constipation, diarrhoea, itching rectum, weight loss and vague fuzzy thoughts, weight gain and feeling spaced out, stomach gas, an inability to concentrate, water retention, a lack of focus, cysts, anaemia, dark circles under eyes and bulging eyes.

 

Drug Treatment

 

It is best to treat the entire family in one go, but always speak with your doctor to begin the first treatment and then you can easily get repeat prescriptions over the counter.

 

Who Must See a Doctor

 

— Planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breast feeders

 

— Children under two years of age

 

— People with epilepsy, a gut blockage, liver disease or severely decreased kidney functions

 

— People with neurological diseases

 

— Patients with complications should be seen by a doctor

 

— With persistent reinfections, you could be referred to a parasitologist.

 

Prevention

 

Always wash your hands and nails thoroughly before preparing food, especially if you are working outside or have soil under your nails.

 

Insist that people who prepare your food also follow a sensible guide to clean hands, clean nails before preparing food.

 

Why Antibiotics May Not Work

 

Worms and parasites reproduce by dropping a reproductive cell within your body called a spore. These spores just sit and wait, maybe up to five to six weeks, then the spore becomes a new worm. There is a range of proper treatments for an active infection and there are different antibiotics for different stages. Talk with your doctor before starting a new course.

 

Rebuilding

 

Once you have completed the elimination of worms and parasites, and cleansed the poisons from your body, it’s important to remember your organs and systems are quite damaged by these pests and the poisons they leave in your body.

 

Consider lifestyle changes — taking powerful probiotics and enzymes are a possibility for the duration of a rebuilding programme. Supplements of vitamins and minerals can help in some cases.

 

It is recommended de-worming should be done approximately every six months to get rid of any pests living inside us, especially if you love your regular street food.

 

Dr Michael E Santos is a general practitioner for Family Medical Practice Hanoi. For more advice on any medical topics, visit Family Medical Practice Hanoi on 298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh or call (04) 3843 0748. FMP’s Ho Chi Minh City clinics are at Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1; 95 Thao Dien, Q2

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