What is Hymenolepiasis?
Hymenolepiasis is a type of worm infection, often described as a type of infestation caused by either one of the two species of tapeworms, namely - Hymenolepsis nana or Hymenolepis diminuta. Recognised as a dwarf tapeworm, this infection affects children and people who do not have access to right hygienic conditions. This tapeworm infection takes place when this dwarf tapeworm’s eggs are consumed, typically through ingesting faecal matter-contaminated water, food, soil or fingers. Hymenolepiasis does not show obvious symptoms but can be accompanied by abdominal pains, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, headache, sleeplessness, itchiness around the anus and irritability. The larvae of tapeworm can even affect the central nervous system, a condition known as cysticercosis of central nervous system.
- This tapeworm infection is not severe or life-threatening, but it can lead to its symptoms worsen if there is no medical attention given. Complications such as abdominal discomfort, prolonged diarrhoea, and dehydration will require treatment soon.
- More often than not, this tapeworm infection is mistaken for pinworm infection - a parasitic disease which results in an itchy anus and trouble sleeping.
- To confirm the diagnosis, the patient’s stool sample will be sent for testing. The stool will be examined for the worm’s eggs or any traces of parasites. Irrespective of whichever worm’s eggs are found, the treatment will be the same for the patient.
What causes Hymenolepiasis?
Hymenolepsiasis has several causes, but perhaps the one distinct reason traces to rats. Hymenolepis worms tend to breed in a rat’s intestines and live in warm climates, typically found in a rat’s faeces. Beetles then consume these faeces. These beetles proceed to contaminate food and drinks, which is then consumed inadvertently by human beings. Sometimes, this tapeworm infection warrants more than one treatment, such as prescription drugs.
- The key to avoiding this tapeworm infection is to maintain proper hygiene. After working in the toilet, changing diapers or working in the kitchen, ensure you wash your hands before and after with an effective soap.
- Bearing this infection in mind, inculcate the habit of maintaining good hygiene and cleanliness among children. Teach them the importance of washing one’s hands often and not touching dirty things or ingesting them to prevent food poisoning in children.
- Ensure the food you consume has been properly washed and cooked. While raw vegetables are good for health, ensure it is properly washed before you consume it.
- Hymenolepsis can spread so ensure you dispose of your excrement thoroughly.
When to visit the doctor?
In case of any food poisoning symptoms, make sure you visit a gastroenterologist so that they can identify the cause of it. You can schedule an instant consultation with top gastroenterologists through the mfine app.