Deworming: Need of the hour
10th February 2019, 03:30 Hrs
February 10 is the first National Deworming day in India while the second being on August 10. Why two days devoted for one cause, one may wonder? Does so much awareness is required on this particular medical condition? “No, that’s not the reason,” states Dr Nilesh Usgaonkar, a paediatrician in Margao and points out, “The reason for commemorating two deworming days in India is, we, Indians require ourselves to deworm twice annually and it is to remind us of that. In India, everybody has to deworm himself, be it a toddler, a child or an adult. In fact, there is a need for mass deworming in India.”
According to WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines and recommendations, till the age of two the child should be dewormed biannually (twice a year) and from two to 14 years of age, the process should be once a year. The reason why all in India need deworming regularly is, Dr Nilesh explains, because a large number of our population comes from low socio-economic condition and the places where a large percentage of these people live are most of the times, unhygienic. There is soil contamination around us, and when soil is contaminated with human or animal stools, hygiene issues arise, he says.
Not limiting deworming to only children up to the age of 14, Dr Nilesh recommends, “The adolescent girls and women of marriageable age must go for deworming. The reason is, girls, at puberty when they begin menstruating, can experience more blood loss, which is caused due to worms. And women of marriageable age and those who have the probability of pregnancy should deworm themselves.”
For school going children deworming is compulsory. The ministry of Health and Child Development, Government of India has made deworming annually compulsory for school going children. For pre-school kids it is twice a year. “Diet has nothing to do with worms,” says Dr Nilesh.
Anyone who has complaints of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, tiredness, deficiency of vitamins and minerals are recommended cases for deworming. The 50 per cent of children who visit his clinic have worm related issues.
In rural Goa, where there’s still cow dung floor in homes, crawling kids (eight month olds) should be dewormed regularly, as the cow dung is a source of eggs of the worms. At around the same time, kids start teething and put everything that comes on the way, into their mouth, thus giving rise to bacterial infection of worms.
The government through its primary health centres distributes free medicines for deworming in schools on two days - 10 February and 10 August not only in low socio-economic class but for all children, irrespective of their background.
Dr Nilesh informs, “There are two ways of deworming in allopathy - one is to paralyse the worms and second is to block their respiration. In both cases, the worms are flushed out of the body as the deworming doses are not absorbed in the intestines. The doses are 400 ml once a day, sometimes, for kids below two the dose is divided in two parts, 200 ml a time twice a day. There are three types of worms - round, hook and pin. Tape worms are common in people who eat pork and beef.”
“In Ayurvedic way of deworming the medicines come in powder, liquid and tablet form and the process is not limited only to deworming, but it is a detailed detoxing of the entire body for five to six days,” states Vaidya Sonali Khandeparkar, proprietor, Khandeparkar Ayurvedic Clinic in Panaji. Deworming is done in children one year upward, however, adults also should go for this process, recommends Vaidya Sonali who mentions that Goan climate is supportive for worms.
Goa has hot, humid climate with salty air which is very supportive for the growth of worms, compared to drier and colder climates. Those who migrate from other places to Goa, have to go for deworming faster than their region, she observes. Those who have digestion problems, gas, skin problems, itching and irruptions on skin, cold, cough, anaemia with low haemoglobin count, need deworming in the first place.
Ayurvedic Panchakarma is administered on such patients. “If worms play in the anal region, deworming is done via enema which relieves faster than oral medicines as it directly attacks the worms,” shares Vaidya Sonali.
It is not true that only sweet foods and chocolates lead to worms in the stomach.
“Rice, which is the staple food in Goa, has starch, which is one of the main reasons to have worms. Sticky and starchy foods promote the growth of worms. The frequency of patients having worms is more in Goa, compared to other regions and it is a misconception that old, elderly people do not need deworming. Irrespective of age, deworming is must, even for people above 50,” maintains Vaidya Sonali. One has to cut down sweets while undergoing the seven-day deworming course in Ayurveda.
In Goa, people must go for deworming more frequently, say every three months instead of six. Ayurveda has lighter medicines for deworming and taking them every month has shown very good results, especially if one gets constant cold. Of, course the doses depend on the severity of condition and can vary from person to person.
“We always ask for the history of deworming and 60 per cent of the patients require it or we insist on it as it cleanses the intestines of worms. The worms obstruct the absorption of vitamin C and iron and causes fatigue and anaemia. When worms are flushed out, the body responds more to other medicines and the person gets well faster,” concludes Vaidya Sonali.