Hookworms are parasites which live in small intestine of humans as well as in animals like dogs and cats. It is one of the main causes of anemia among people living in tropics. Also called helminths in medical literature, two types of hookworms are found in human intestine, namely, Ankylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus.
The adult hookworm is grayish white and about 8 to 13 mm in length. They live in large numbers in small intestine. Hookworm enters through mouth after eating contaminated food or water with fecal matter. They also penetrate the skin usually of feet when a person walks bare foot in the soil contaminated with fecal matter. More than half billion of people are affected with hookworm infection throughout the world.
Hookworm can live and multiply in the host for many years. Especially in children the worms can affect physical as well as intellectual growth. Mass eradication or control is difficult, but individual treatment with antihelminthic medicines and iron supplementation is possible to reduce the morbid symptoms.
Hookworm Symptoms In Humans
Hookworm can affect adults as well as children. In majority of cases it does not produce any remarkable symptoms. However, when they are found in large number, the adult worm can produce the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, loss of appetite, minor bleeding from gut, dark black stools, and iron deficiency anemia.
- Person may complain of breathlessness on exertion as a result of low hemoglobin.
- Rapid heartbeat, weakness, pain in chest and cramps in legs are other clinical manifestation that may be seen in people suffering from hookworm infection. All these symptoms are related to iron deficiency anemia caused due to hookworm.
- In severe cases mental apathy and depression are common and in adults, amenorrhea (absence of menses) in women and impotency in men can occur.
- Larvae when penetrates into the skin, can cause cutaneuos migricans, it is itchy, red linear eruptions that may lead to secondary bacterial infection.
- Wheezy cough due to lung affection is more common with A. duodenale.
Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of Hookworms In Humans
Hookworm in intestine can be diagnosed by microscopic examination of stool. Microscopy examination reveals eggs that are passed in stool. The blood examination reveals eosinophilia and iron deficiency anemia.
Conventional anti-helminthic medicine is effective in treating hookworm infestation. There are several home remedies that are known to get rid of hookworms. While there is no scientific backing for the efficacy of home remedies for hookworm, since ages they have been used to cure worm infestation in intestine including hookworm infection.
- Pomegranate: The powder of either bark or fruit peel is effective in expelling hookworms. It contains a chemical called punicine, which is toxic to the intestinal worms. Take 3 to 5 grams of this powder with water and sugar once or two times in a day.
- Sweet basil is a time tested effective cure for intestinal worms. Prepare a decoction of the leaves or the powder of seeds to kill hookworms in the intestine.
- Papaya: An unripe papaya contains an enzyme called papain. It is toxic to the intestinal worms. Extract one teaspoon juice from unripe papaya. Mix it with equal quantity of water and honey. Drink the juice daily for two days. One hour after the juice, drink one teaspoon of castor oil mixed in one glass of milk. It acts as purgative and flushes out the worms from the intestine with together with stool.
- Unripe beetle nut: Prepare a paste from unripe beetle nut. Mix one to two grams of paste with one teaspoon of lemon juice. Drink for two days.
- Drumstick seeds are found to posses anti helminthic properties. Powder them and take two grams of it with water two times in a day for three days.
- The herb wormwood is an effective herb for expelling hookworms. It has been used since ancient times to treat worm infestation in humans.