Mebendazole is a medication for the treatment of worm infections in the gut such as:
- Hookworm infections
- Pinworm infections (enterobiasis)
- Whipworm infections (trichuriasis)
- Roundworm infections (ascariasis)
- Hydatid disease
- Intestinal form of trichinosis before its spreading into the tissues beyond the digestive tract
Mebendazole belongs to the class of drugs known as anthelmintic. This type of drug works by killing the worm that causes the infections. It prevents newly hatched insect larvae from growing and multiplying in the body. Mebendazole, like other benzimidazole anthelmintic, is active against both the adult and larval stage of nematodes. In whipworms and roundworms, this drug can kill the eggs as well. The death and paralysis of the worm may occur slowly while the elimination through the feces may require several days. However, Mebendazole can kill worms slowly in those with heavy infestations. This causes the worm to move into the digestive tract which can lead to bile duct problems, appendicitis and intestinal perforation.
This medicine came to use in 1971 in treating worm infections. It is listed as one of the most essential medicine by the World Health Organization and is considered one of the safest and most effective medications needed in the health system. It is a highly effective and broad- spectrum of anthelmintic medication against nematode infections and intestinal form of trichosis. It is used alone in treating mild to moderate worm infections.
How to Use It
Mebendazole is available in tablet and liquid medicine to take orally. You may give your child a single dose for pinworm infections or twice each day for 3 days for whipworm, roundworm and hookworm infections. If you are giving a single dose, you may give it at any time of the day. You may give another single dose after two weeks to prevent re-infection. If you are giving two doses in a day, this should be once in the morning and once in the evening. There should be at least 12 hours apart.
For tablet medication, swallow the tablet whole with water. Your child can also chew the tablet if they find it hard to swallow. For liquid form, see to it that you shake the bottle first before giving it to your child. Use the oral syringe or the dosage cup to measure the right amount of the medicine. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the correct amount. The onset of action of Mebendazole begins right after administration but it may take several days to kill all the worms. For a missed dose, take it as soon as you remember.
Possible Side Effects
Mebendazole may cause unwanted side effects aside from its intended effects but it doesn’t mean all those who will take this drug will experience the side effects. Common side effects are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
Rare side effects include:
- Hair loss
- Decreased number of white blood cells
- Inflammation of the liver
- Abnormal test in the liver function
Call your doctor at once if you will experience:
- Severe allergic reactions such as wheezing, shortness of breath, swelling of the face and throat, hives
- Severe allergic blistering skin reaction that affects the tissue of the mouth, eyes, throat and genitals
- Signs of bone marrow suppression such as fever, chill, mouth sores, sore throat, trouble swallowing, easy bleeding or bruising
Sometimes, there may be other side effects not listed above. If you noticed anything unusual contact your doctor as soon as possible.
What should I know before taking Mebendazole?
- Do not give Mebendazole to children under the age of 2 years.
- Do not take this with other medications unless your doctor has told you not to. Tell your doctor if you are taking any prescription and non-prescriptions medications, vitamins, nutritional and herbal supplements as they can interact with Mebendazole.
- In addition to your treatment, you may need to take steps to prevent reinfections and infection of other people.
- Tell your doctor if you ever have liver and stomach disease.
Getting the Best Result from Mebendazole
- Mebendazole works slowly in killing the worms causing the worm to move into the digestive tract causing appendicitis, bile duct problems and intestinal perforation. To avoid this, patients with heavy infestation must be treated with additional medication to kill the worm and pass them in the feces.
- The safety of this medicine has not been established for use by pregnant women. Whenever possible, pregnant women with worm infections are recommended to use other hygiene measures to eliminate the worm and eggs.
- Mebendazole may pass into breast milk in a small amount. It is therefore recommended that breastfeeding women should avoid using Mebendazole.
- Take Mebendazole for the number of days that your doctor has told you. If you stop taking your medication, worm infections may come back.
Tips to prevent threadworm infections
- Wash your hands with soap and water before eating or preparing your foods and after using the toilet. Scrub under the nails to make sure your hands are totally clean.
- Keep your fingernails clean and short. Avoid biting or sucking your fingernails.
- Wear underwear and pajamas when you go to bed.
- Worms lay their eggs in the anus at night. It is recommended therefore that you take your bath in the morning rather than in the evening to wash away any worm eggs that were laid around the anus overnight. The eggs around the anus can be transferred back to the mouth causing re-infections.
All members of the family must take extra care with hygiene for at least 6 weeks after the infections.