When was the last time you dewormed? Why adults shouldn't ignore the benefits of deworming

All patients, adults and children, are recommended to take deworming medication every six months, regardless of lifestyle. Picture: Pavel Danilyuk /Pexels

All patients, adults and children, are recommended to take deworming medication every six months, regardless of lifestyle. Picture: Pavel Danilyuk /Pexels

Published Apr 11, 2024


In a world buzzing with wellness trends and health hacks, it's easy to overlook the basics, one of which is the importance of deworming. Its a topic that often gets overlooked.

Deworming, the process of eliminating worms and parasites from the body, is a crucial step in maintaining good health, yet it's shrouded in myths and misconceptions.

Independent Media Lifestyle got in touch with Ernst Van Rensburg, the Clinic Admin Manager at Dis-Chem, to look at why it's important to deworm, what dangers and sicknesses come from parasites, and clear up the myths around this subject.

According to Van Rensburg, deworming is vital for the simple reason that parasitic worms can significantly harm our health.

These unwelcome guests can invade our digestive tracts and other parts of the body, leading to malnutrition, weakened immune systems and a host of other health issues.

For children, the stakes are even higher, as heavy worm infections can impair growth, and cognitive development, and even lead to chronic health problems.

Van Rensburg said Soi-transmitted worm infestations are among the most common human diseases, with 24% of the world’s population infected. Intestinal worms affect people of all ages and are not only limited to children.

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As large-scale campaigns and awareness mainly focus on deworming in children, there is a common misconception that only children can be affected by intestinal worms.

Symptoms and risks of parasitic infections

The risks associated with not deworming can be severe.

“Intestinal worms affect the absorption of nutrients that we typically receive through food intake. These nutrients are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. And if left untreated, intestinal worms may cause anaemia, stomach cramps, anal itching, loss of appetite and diarrhoea.”

Worm infections such as hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm are among the most common.

In extreme cases, they can lead to complications such as intestinal blockages and impaired physical and cognitive development in children.

Common myths and misconceptions are listed below:

There is a common misconception that adults are unlikely to be affected by worms.

Many adults also believe that deworming medication will result in dead worms being visible when using the restroom, and they avoid taking this medication as a result, Van Rensburg shared.

Myth: Only children need deworming

While it's true that children are more susceptible to worm infections due to their play habits, adults also need deworming. Parasites do not discriminate by age, and adults can suffer from the same symptoms and health issues as children.

Van Rensburg said: “All patients, adults and children, are recommended to take deworming medication every six months, regardless of lifestyle or other external factors.”

Myth: Deworming is only necessary if symptoms appear

Many people believe that deworming is only needed when symptoms of a worm infection appear.

However, many worm infections do not produce noticeable symptoms until they've significantly impacted one's health. Regular deworming is recommended as a preventive measure.

“I once had a patient who was suffering from chronic anaemia. Iron supplements, which are regularly used to treat anaemia, had little to no effect on the patient’s iron levels.

“Upon history taking it was found that the patient could not remember the last time she took a deworming medication, and a single-dose (one tablet) deworming medication was given.

“In the months following the previous consultation the patient had a profound increase in serum iron levels which had a great impact on her mood, energy levels and overall quality of life,” said Van Rensburg.

Myth: Deworming medications are harmful

Some believe that deworming medications are too strong and can harm the body. In reality, deworming medications are safe and effective when used as directed.

If the recommended dosage of deworming medication is followed, the medication poses a significantly lower risk than the risks associated with worm infestation.

Why is deworming a must

Deworming is an essential health measure that should be part of everyone's health routine. It's especially critical in areas where sanitation and hygiene practices might not be ideal.

Van Rensburg said deworming regularly greatly complements a healthy diet as a worm infestation can cause fatigue, which can result in a patient relying on food high in sugar, carbs and caffeine.