Many people become infected by parasitic worms each year. There are more than 100 varieties of parasitic worms. Some can be seen with the naked eye and others are microscopic. There are four main drugs that are used to treat parasitic worms: albendazole, pyrantel pamoate, mebendazole and niclosamide. These are classified as anti-helmintic medications, (anti-worm drugs).
Types of Parasitic Worms
There are four different types of parasitic worms that infect humans: Protozoa, Trematoda, Cestoda, and Nematoda. The more common worms, roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, pinworm, heart worm, are classified as Nematodas. They can live in the stomach and digestive tract as well as tissues of muscles, the vascular system (blood stream), heart, brain and other organs.
Albendazole prevents newly hatched worms from growing or multiplying in the body. It also kills the adult worms. Treatment should be given once a year after an infection to prevent reinfection. Pregnant women should not be given this medicine during the first trimester. Those with chronic illnesses such as sick cell anaemia or liver disease should not be given this medication. This medicine should be taken for the entire length of time that it is prescribed, even if symptoms subside.
Pyrantel pamoate kills parasitic worms such as pin worms and hook worms by paralysing their nervous system. When the worms are dead they pass into the stool and are emptied from the body. Before taking pyrantel pamoate tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, if you are breast feeding, if you take any prescription or herbal medications, if you are allergic to medicines or foods.
Mebendazole keeps worms from growing in your body and to treat infections caused by whip worm, pin worm, round worm, and hook worm. It can treat more than one worm at a time. Be sure to tell your doctor about any medical conditions you have before taking mebendazole, including if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Do not take mebendazole if you are breast feeding. Children under the age of two years should not take mebendazole unless recommended by your doctor.
Niclosamide is prescribed to treat infections from broad or fish tapeworm, dwarf tapeworm, and beef tapeworm. Niclosamide should not be used for pin worms or round worms. But it may be used to treat other tapeworm infections. Niclosamide kills the tapeworms on contact and the dead worms pass into the stool. Be sure to tell your doctor is you have an allergy to this medicine, if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, or if you are breast feeding. It should not be used in children under two years of age unless recommended by your doctor. Do not give to elderly patients unless recommended by the doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking other medications or herbal remedies to prevent interactions.