Hookworm Infection Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
What Is a Hookworm?
Hookworms are parasitic worms that can infect your lungs and small intestine and wreak havoc on your health. According to the CDC, approximately 576-740 million people worldwide are infected with hookworms each year; however, hookworm infections are now rare in the United States due to improvements in living conditions.
Common causes of hookworm in humans include walking barefoot in contaminated soil or coming into contact with infected pets. Hookworm can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including abdominal pain and diarrhea, and suspected cases of hookworm should be evaluated by a healthcare provider to prevent more serious complications.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Santa Monica who specializes in hookworm infection treatment, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Vitality Integrative Medicine online.
Hookworms are small parasitic worms that are about half-an-inch long. The two most common species of hookworm which lead to infections are Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale. Humans contract hookworm infections through roundworm eggs and larvae found in dirt and feces; transmission occurs as they enter your skin and travel through your bloodstream to your lungs. They can also be swallowed by mouth and carried to your small intestine; a fully-grown hookworm can live in the small intestine for a year before your body excretes the parasite. Once the hookworm is inside you, it will begin to feed on your blood.
People who are more at risk of developing hookworm infections include those who live in warmer climates, those who have poor hygiene and sanitation, and those who walk barefoot through contaminated soil. Pets infected with hookworms can also indirectly infect their owners.
Hookworm Infection Symptoms
Some people may not experience any symptoms of a hookworm infection. If you do experience symptoms, the first sign of an infection is often a rash and itch; this is an allergic reaction in the area where the worm entered your skin. As the worm grows in the intestine, it will likely cause diarrhea and other hookworm infection symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Coughing or wheezing
- Blood in your stool
- Intestinal cramps
- Pale skin
The symptoms of hookworm in infants include colic, or cramping and excessive crying.
If you do show human hookworm symptoms, it is important that you contact a medical professional right away. Complications of a hookworm infection can include:
- Anemia , or low red blood cell count
- Heart failure
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Widespread swelling
- Ascites, a condition caused by protein loss and abdominal fluid buildup
Children with hookworm infections may also experience slow growth and mental development caused from a loss of iron and protein.
Hookworm Infection Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosis of a hookworm infection may include an examination of physical symptoms, a stool sample to check for the presence of hookworm eggs, or blood tests to identify anemia and iron deficiencies. If it is determined that there is an infection, then hookworm treatment can begin; treatment is aimed at getting rid of the parasites, improving nutrition, and treating the complications of anemia, if present.
Hookworm medicine (most often albendazole and mebendazole) is designed to destroy the parasites and is generally taken for one to three days. However, these medications may have adverse effects on an unborn fetus, and as a result, should not be taken by pregnant women. To improve your nutrition, your healthcare provider might prescribe folate supplements; folate is a B vitamin found naturally in food and is frequently used to cure anemia. In order to treat the complications caused by anemia, iron and protein supplements might be used. These supplements can also be used to improve your overall nutrition if appropriate.
There are various ways that you can prevent a hookworm infection, including:
- Drinking safe water
- Properly cleaning and cooking food
- Wearing shoes outside and avoiding walking barefoot in areas where there may be feces
- Making sure your pets are vaccinated and dewormed
Although the hookworm infection can be very disturbing, it can be easily diagnosed and treated without serious complications. To learn more information about the treatment of hookworm infections in Santa Monica, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Vitality Integrative Medicine online.
Vitality Integrative Medicine
Address4849 Van Nuys Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tue: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm