The symptoms which ought, at all events, to excite suspicions as to the existence of worms, are: paleness and emaciation, pungent wringing and fitful pain about the navel and pit of the stomach, irritation and itching with heat of the posterior passage, and irregular action of the bowels, fastidious appetite, irritation of the nose , excessive faintness and a sense of hunger without inclination to eat when food is produced, uneasiness, depression of spirits, languor, restlessness and anxiety. The brain and lungs are often sympathetically affected and dull or pressive aching pains in the head, convulsions, dilated pupils, fixed, wild look, and a dry, hacking cough, often prevail, or there may be vomiting, hiccup, diarrhea, straining, suppression of water, difficulty in passing water, grinding of the teeth, and starting during sleep. Frequently there is aggravation after eating sweets, milk diet, salted meats, raw fruit, and often a sudden disappearance of all the symptoms on the voiding of worms.
There are three species of worms, the thread worm, round worm and the tapeworm. There are two varieties of thread worms, viz., the long thread worm and the short thread worm. The former chiefly inhabits the large intestines, is about two inches long, of a white colour, and resembles a thread. The latter, the ascaris, or ascarides as they are usually denominated, also occupy the large intestines, but are more frequently located in the last intestine, where they generally create an almost insupportable itching; and are frequently to be seen like minute animated fragments of thread, rapidly moving about in the recently passed evacuations, or they may be observed in congregated numbers around the fundament, and are sometimes even found in the bed in which a child much infested by them has slept.
Tape worm is rarely met with in children. The varieties which give rise to the greatest constitutional disturbance are the round worm and the short thread worm, particularly the latter. When the symptoms originate from the round worm, they commonly consist in griping about the navel, excessive emaciation, voracious appetite, and a feeling of sickly faintness. Whilst the same indications combined with a nauseating or gnawing pain in the stomach, and more especially, the itching in the nose and in the last intestine, denote the existence of ascarides.
Anything which tends to bring about a morbid state of the mucous or lining membrane of the stomach and bowels, such as the constant or frequent use of indigestible or innutritious food, a residence in low-lying, damp, ill-ventilated dwellings, favours the generation of worms. Scrofulous or otherwise sickly children are predisposed to be affected with them.
In cases of thread worm, when there are considerable febrile symptoms, with nocturnal restlessness, peevishness, and continual itching and smarting in the last intestine, Aconitum, for infants one globule, and for a child more advanced two globules may be given in a dessert spoonful of water, and repeated about every eight hours, until the febrile symptoms subside.
Ipecacuanha may be administered in the same manner, twenty-four hours after Aconite, if the bowels are in a relaxed state, and the child complains of a sense of sinking or faintness in the stomach, and also when there is vomiting, oppressed and accelerated breathing, suffocating cough, great listlessness, and aversion to exercise. The employment of Cina and Ipecacuanha, in alternation for three or four days, is sometimes very beneficial when the symptoms consist of a combination of those we have mentioned under both remedies. (See Cina.)
Nux V. is preferable to Ipecacuanha, when constipation predominates or when there are alternations of diarrhea and constipation. Two globules, at first daily, for three days, and then every other day for a week.
Ignatia should generally be resorted to when Nux v. is ineffectual. Or it may be selected in preference to that remedy when convulsive twitchings of the limbs frequently occur. Administration is same as Nux v.
Sulphur is commonly the best subsequent medicine. Two globules night and morning, every eight or ten days, for a period of four or five weeks. When only temporary benefit results from the use of Sulphur, a similar course of Silica and then Calcarea, may be given.
Urtica Urens (one drop of the tincture in a little water on a lump of loaf sugar) is often a useful palliative against the irritation and itching of the passage.
Cina (for an infant, one globule, dissolved in four teaspoonfuls of water, of which one teaspoonful should be administered in the morning and evening. For a child more advanced, three globules, in four dessert-spoonfuls of water, one dessert- spoonful similarly) when there is great itching and obstruction of the nose , perverseness, fever chills towards evening; restlessness, cries and startings during sleep, blackness about the eyes, dilated pupils, hard, quick pulse, rapid changes of colour in the face, fits of delirium, clammy tongue, eructations or vomiting, constant craving for food, distension, heat, and hardness of the stomach, costiveness, or purging, sometimes the stools consisting merely of a little mucus, which is passed after much straining, convulsive twitchings of the limbs, lassitude thick, whitish urine, habitual wetting of the bed at night.
Aconitum is sometimes required before Cina and indeed, before, or in alternation with, most of the remedies employed in the early stage against both varieties of worms. It may be given in the manner already described. When Cina produces only partial improvement, some other medicament must be had recourse to. Generally speaking, Mercurius and then Sulphur are the most appropriate with which to follow up the treatment but Nux v. Ipecacuanha, or Belladonna are sometimes required. In short, the choice of the remedy must here, as in every other malady, be selected as closely in accordance with the symptoms as possible. Thus Mercurius is more especially called for when diarrhoea, with straining and bloody stools, accompanies the presence of worms, or when the motions are scanty, consisting only of a little slime, and there is an increased flow of saliva, with much hardness and distension of the abdomen, particularly about the navel.
Nux Vomica when there is considerable derangement of the digestive functions, manifested by foul tongue, inclination to vomit, impaired appetite, thirst, tenderness at the pit of the stomach on pressure, fullness, and sensation of heat in the stomach and bowels, constipation, sometimes in alternation with diarrhea, depression, peevishness, and exacerbation of the symptoms every morning.
Ipecacuanha, when vomiting predominates, and when a continued sense of uneasiness and faintness is experienced in the stomach. Pulsatilla, when the symptoms nearly resemble those that have been enumerated under Nux vomica, with the distinction that they are more frequently, though not always, increased towards evening, and when there is a more constant tendency to looseness of the bowels.
Belladonna should be resorted to when there are marked symptoms of symptomatic derangement of the brain, or when the sympathetic irritation caused by worms has terminated in inflammatory action. These manifestations are chiefly as follows: starting during sleep, nocturnal delirium, disposition to be frightened or agitated by the most trivial cause; also when there is heat of the head, headache, excessive thirst, quickness of pulse, heat of skin, wild expression of the eye and dilated pupils. Lachesis is sometimes required after Belladonna. Sulphur, as has already been stated, is commonly required after Mercurius. It is, moreover, very frequently of service in winding up the cure after the previous use of the other medicines here named.
Great attention should, in all cases of worms, be paid to ventilation, exercise, cleanliness, and to the wholesome quality of the diet.
Excerpted from: The Parent’s Guide: Containing The Diseases of Infancy and Childhood and Their Homoeopathic Treatment. By Dr. J. Laurie, Licentiate of The Royal College Of Surgeons