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We Need to Have a Conversation About Worms

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We need to have a conversation about worms. No, sadly, this conversation is not about fishing. 

A lot of people don’t realise that it is entirely possible to have parasitic worms living inside your intestines. They believe this might be a possibility if you swam in a South American River, or ate three day old goat in some far flung country, but here in Australia? Well, friend, this is much more common than you might think. Come with us now on a journey through the small intestines to meet the worms that might live there.

The most common kind of worm that can infect humans in Australia is the threadworm (occasionally called pinwords). They are named for their appearance: they look like small pieces of thread or cotton, usually about 1.5 centimetres in length. Their head is blunt, their tale is pointed, and startlingly, they can live for almost two months inside of you. No thanks.

They tend to be much more common in children. And no, this isn’t because your kid is a grot, or that your house is a cesspit. Infection generally takes place through physical contact with someone who is infected. And kids tend to make more physical contact than adults; climbing over each other, playing tip etc.

Unless your place of work is super fun, this probably doesn’t come up much. It is still very possible for adults to pick up threadworms, as it can take place from indirect contact; touching a door handle, using the same computer etc. I can’t stress this enough: You having a threadworm infection does not make you unclean. You are not the modern leper.

So how might you know if you (or your child) has a threadworm infection? Well, there are a number of telltale signs.

  • Irritability
  • Complaints of an itchy bottom
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of appetite

If you notice these symptoms, you need to get some evidence to confirm your suspicions. Here is where things get a bit messy. You’re going to need to take a look at the poo. If you see these threadlike worms on the surface of the poo, you know what you’re dealing with. If you don’t see anything, that still hasn’t ruled out worms. Have a look around the anus after you or your child does a poo. With the help of a torch, you should be able to see eggs or worms with the naked eye. 

You can also get a bit of sticky tape and place it over the anus – a budget version of a brazilian wax job. If you hold the tape up to the light, you should be able to see little white specks littering the tape. Finally, worms can be asymptomatic, so if in doubt, seek advice from your health professional.

Fear not! Though it seems like terrible news, the treatment for a worm infection is far less invasive than you might have imagined. I’d like you to meet Combantrin. Aside from the fact that it sounds like combatting (which is exactly what you want from a treatment when you’ve got threadworms), Combantrin has a pretty tasty orange flavour so it goes down well whether you’re young or old.

It uses the active ingredient Mebendazole which prevents the worm from absorbing glucose which is their prime energy source. Over a few days, the worm begins to die in your intestines, and will eventually be passed in your next bowel movement. There is something oddly satisfying when you consider the ignobility of such a death. It’s not less than they deserve. Combantrin also has a chocolate squares product, so even the most medicine averse child in the world can be sold on this particular treatment.

Another possibility is the hookworm. These blisters are picked up if you have contact with soil that has been contaminated with the poo of an infected person. Alarmingly, they hook into the soles of your feet if you are barefoot, penetrate the skin and move to your small intestine where they hook onto the intestinal wall. They are usually about the same size as threadworms. Happily, Combantrin is also very effective against hookworm. Use as instructed and you will be right as rain. The same applies to roundworm and whipworm

I thought I’d leave you with a bit of a horror story. Another type of worm which humans can get are what is known as tapeworms. Now, this is a different kettle of fish. Unlike the friendly threadworm, a tapeworm sticks around. Essentially, they bury their heads into the intestinal wall, and stay there. Make sure you’re sitting down for this: They can live inside you for 30 years. They can grow in excess of 25 metres long.

Go down to your local pool, see how long that is, and be prepared to feel incredibly grossed out. You typically pick up tapeworm by drinking water which is contaminated with eggs or larvae. Relax, the Australian water system is pretty phenomenal at weeding out these kinds things, but if you were drinking off the grid, or were perhaps in another country, this option does present itself. The symptoms are pretty severe. Nausea, weakness, diarrhoea, dizziness, inability to put on weight, and interestingly, a craving for salty food.

Generally, this isn’t the kind of beast you want to tackle by yourself. If you suspect that you may be infected with tapeworm, you should seek medical help immediately shudder.

I hope this has been illuminating for you. Part of the battle against worms is the stigma. People are often so horrified by the prospect that they don’t seek help and the ordeal is prolonged unnecessarily. But I understand the reluctance to look the pharmacist in the eye as you buy this.

It shouldn’t be real, but it is. Luckily for you, there is a certain online pharmacy that lets you do this all from a distance! Shop our range today for a discrete remedy for an infestation you might want to keep discrete.