Unless you live in a tropical country, you may not think a lot about parasites. Unfortunately, they are a very real part of life, no matter where you live in the world and if things go bad, you need to know what to look for. Parasite symptoms in children and adults are similar and when there’s no doctor around, you’ll want to keep an eye out for them and treat as soon as possible.
Common Parasite Symptoms in Children
The type of parasite will determine the symptoms, so we’ll look at some of the most common critters to set up shop in your body. Nearly all of these will be in the intestines.
While relatively harmless and very common, pinworms can cause abdominal pain in large amounts and they will also deprive the body of nutrients, which may cause weakness and a lowered immune system. Since the last thing you need in an emergency situation is a sick kid, it’s best to treat these parasites immediately.
Symptoms of pinworms may include an itchy anus, interrupted sleep, and small, white worms in the stool. The worms come out of the anus at night and lay eggs, which causes the itching and may also cause a rash from scratching. When the child scratches, eggs get under the fingernails and can be transported to the mouth, transferred ot another person or an object, which is then touched by another person. In short, pinworms are super contagious.
Treatment for pinworms: Mebendazole or albendazole are usually prescribed for the worms. You’ll need to treat everyone in the family, thanks to the contagious nature.
Prevention of pinworms: To avoid infection, it’s important to keep fingernails trimmed and wash hands before every meal. Children should be taught not to put their hands in their mouth and any clothing worn by an infected person should be washed in hot water, as well as their bedding.
Giardiasis (Beaver Fever)
This parasite, giardia lamblia, travels in contaminated water and in a survival situation, it could potentially spread quickly in close quarters, especially if sanitation is not up to snuff. It can be found in feces of all kinds, both human and animal, so proper waste disposal is essential.
Giardia symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, headaches and abdominal pain. You’ll probably notice a lot of gas, as well. If it goes on too long, giardiasis can cause weight loss, due to diarrhea and vomiting, as well as dehydration.
Treatment for giardiasis: There are a few options for treating this type of parasitic infection, including tinidazole, metronidazole, and paromomycin are some of the options that may be prescribed.
Prevention of giardiasis: The simplest way to prevent water-borne contamination is to boil your water to purify it and kill anything that may be alive in it. Keeping waste away from water sources and maintaining good hygiene is also essential.
Another unpleasant parasite that can rear its ugly head in low sanitary situations, or when contaminated water or food has been ingested. While amoebas tend not to be a big issue in modern civilization, it can definitely be a problem in rural areas or when a disaster hits. Unfortunately, amebiasis can cause serious health problems, including dehydration and possible liver abscesses.
Symptoms of amebiasis include fever, abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and sometimes, blood in the stool.
Treatment for amoebas: The most commonly prescribed treatment is Flagyl or metronidazole. It’s an antibiotic that will kill off the amoebas and can also help the liver heal any abscesses.
Prevention of amebiasis: To keep your family healthy, it’s important to practice good hygiene, boil contaminated water and cook food thoroughly before eating it.
Other parasitic infections that your family may get in a disaster situation include blastocystis hominis, which may or may not cause symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, tape worms, which may cause malnutrition and stomach pain, and ascaris, or round worms, which can weaken the system and eventually overrun the gut. It’s a good idea to watch for parasite symptoms in children and adults, so you can recognize an issue quickly.
If anyone in your family is dealing with these types of symptoms and you suspect parasites, a stool sample can be checked at the lab. Your doctor will prescribe the correct treatement.
In disaster situations, where parasites may cause more harm than usual, it’s very important to keep your family well hydrated, especially if there is nausea and vomiting. You may want to try natural parasite remedies, such as zinc or oregano oil. If you are seeing parasite symptoms in children, it’s best to treat them quickly to prevent complications or ongoing trouble.