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What Is Pyrantel Pamoate?

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  • Written By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Pyrantel pamoate is a drug that can help remove certain infectious worm species from the body. The drug is used for humans and for those animals that may be a source of human infection, such as dogs. Various different species of worm can be treated with this drug, including roundworms and hookworms. Possible side effects of the drug include gastrointestinal problems and insomnia.

Worm infestation can occur both in people and in animals, and animal feces can be a way that people ingest worm egg. The types of infections that pyrantel pamoate may be used to treat include ascariasis, enterobiasis and uncinariasis. In dogs, tapeworm infections can also be treated with the drug, but veterinary products are not comparable to human products and humans should use specialized human forms of pyrantel palmoate.

Although pyrantel pamoate is useful to help cure various types of worm infections, the drug does not actually kill the worms. Instead, it paralyzes the worms' muscle fibers and causes them to loosen their grip on tissue inside the body, eventually falling off. Once the worms fall off the tissue they are holding on to, which is typically the interior wall of the intestines, the body can expel them through the normal route in feces.

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As the drug primarily affects worms in the intestines, gastrointestinal issues are common side effects of pyrantel pamoate use. These include diarrhea, vomiting and a reduction in appetite during the treatment process. Some patients experience dizziness or headaches; sleepiness, or problems sleeping, are also possible side effects of the drug. Rarely, a patient may experience an allergic reaction to the medicine, which can produce symptoms like facial swelling, hives and problems breathing.

Children under the age of two years old may not be suitable candidates for pyrantel pamoate treatment, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should also ask their doctors for advice prior to taking the drug. Anyone who takes piperazine medication need also ask their doctor for advice as pyrantel pamoate can interact with this drug. Another issue with worm treatment medications in general is the possibility of spreading the worms to other members of the household. Recommendations include wearing underwear that is tight to the skin to prevent worm eggs from contaminating bedding, and possibly treating all members of the family if one person is known to have worm infestation. Thorough cleaning of the bedding and of a bedroom in its entirely, is another recommendation to accompany pyrantel pamoate treatment, to clear the house of possible worm contamination.

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