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What is Mebendazole?

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  • Written By: K. Willis
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Mebendazole is an anti-parasitic oral medication, most commonly used to treat parasitic worm infections, such as roundworm or tape worm, in humans. It belongs to a group medications known collectively as anthelmintics. Mebendazole is most commonly administered as a soluble or chewable tablet.

A parasite is an organism which uses another organism, or host, to live, stealing valuable nutrients as they feed and reproduce. There are many parasites throughout both the plant and animal kingdom, including a large selection of worms which can infest humans as well as other animals. Mebendazole is used to treat several different types of worm infections.

Mebendazole treats the infestation by inhibiting the ability of the worms to absorb food, whether it is glucose and undigested food from the host, or blood from the walls of the small intestine. The worms eventually die and are excreted from the body. Mebendazole may be administered as one single dose, or at regular intervals over a period of several days. An additional course of treatment may be required after approximately three weeks if the infestation has not been completely eradicated, or it has recurred.

Side effects of mebendazole can include stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as high temperature, excessive sweating, hives, and skin irritation. On rare occasions, dizziness, headaches, and hair loss have been reported. It is important to only take the prescribed dose.

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This medication should not be taken with carbamazipine or phenytoin, and should not be taken if the patient suffers from stomach or liver conditions. It is vital that the patient informs the health professional of any medication or vitamin supplements being taken, and of any other medical conditions. This will reduce the risk of side effects, contraindications, and complications.

Roundworms, or ascaris lumbricoides, enter the body from a contaminated source, such as food or water. There are around 12,000 species of roundworm. The most common roundworm species found in the human intestine are the ascaris, trichina, and hookworm. If left untreated for long periods of time, some roundworm species can cause serious health complications, such as anemia, or even cause the death of the host organisms, including humans.

Worm infestations are not precisely contagious, but can pass from one host to another very easily. The mature worms lay eggs in the intestine of an infected host, and a large number of these eggs are expelled from the host when the bowels are emptied. Unless proper precautions are taken to disinfect bathroom areas, including the toilet and sink, the eggs may enter another host. Bed linen and clothing should also be washed and disinfected daily to avoid the eggs infecting an additional host.

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