Anthelmintic drugs are prescribed to stop attacks of worms. These drugs are also referred to as vermicides. Their main task is to stop the access of glucose or other forms of sugars to macro-parasites like worms. Once the essential supply of sugars is cut-off, most of the parasitic worms will start to perish. Most anthelmintic drugs can also kill the eggs laid by these worms from being hatched. Drugs like albendazole are popularly prescribed against a wide range of worms – including tapeworms, pinworms, ringworms, etc. However, before starting to use this drug – it is highly recommended to know how and when to take it.

Albendazole is an anthelmintic medicine approved by food and drug administration (FDA) in the mid-90s. It is approved for use to stop infections caused due to tapeworms (especially, of the pork and dog genres). Not stopping with these approved applications, the drug is also used for treating infestations of filarial worms, whipworms, hydatid diseases, etc.

How to take this drug?

This drug is taken orally. It is important to take this drug as per instructions of your treating physician. Some people may take larger doses of this drug or may prolong its use for a longer time; both these practices may lead to various harmful side effects. Hence, you are advised to adhere to the safety precautions printed on the pack. It is important to read all the instructions or talk to your pharmacist for safe intake of this drug.

Children may be more vulnerable to tapeworms or ringworms. But, some children may find it difficult to swallow the pills. In such instances, you are advised to crush the pills, and have the powder consumed along with water. Always remember that dosages administered for younger adults as well as children are influenced by their body weight. So, if your child’s weight changes (i.e., decreases or increases), the dosage of this drug is also altered accordingly.

Safe use of this anthelmintic drug

Foremost of all, you need to remember that this drug cannot work against viral infections. So, do not use it to treat conditions like common cold, flu or runny nose. It is important to never stop taking this drug even after witnessing initial signs of relief. When you sense some positive signs – never stop using this drug. Those who stopped upon witnessing such early symptoms of relief – in most cases – witnessed a relapse of worm infestations. Your treating doctor or pharmacist may advise you to continue taking this drug all through the medication plan.

Other safety precautions

Inform your treating physician about prior medical conditions, if any. You may need to disclose needful details on conditions like internal bleeding or bruising, hepatic disorders such as inflammation or cirrhosis of the liver, etc. Those living with such liver conditions must opt for a liver function test on a regular basis.

Your doctor may advise intake of albendazole regularly. Usually, this drug – along with its active ingredients – is easily tolerated. Most people who took this drug reported minimal or almost nil side effects. At the same time, you need to remember that it may take some 3 to 4 days for the drug’s effects to show up. The permissible dosage limit per day is never more than 800 mg – i.e., milligrams. This drug can be taken along with a meal.

Use of albendazole among women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant

Those who are planning to become pregnant or those who are already pregnant must avoid taking this drug. As albendazole may harm your fetus, you are advised to use appropriate birth control measures. If you have become pregnant while using this drug, it is important to see your doctor without any delay. As an added precaution, you are advised to use birth control measures like vaginal rings or skin patches for at least 3 to 4 days after completing your dosage plan. It is important to obtain negative results for pregnancy tests before starting to take this drug.

Use of albendazole by breastfeeding or nursing mothers

Mothers who are nursing their babies must also stay away from using this drug. Medical studies have not clearly documented the effects of albendazole on nursing women. The risks of the active ingredients of this drugs passing through mother’s milk is not fully evidenced. However, it is important to consult your physician or pharmacist if you are breastfeeding.

Risks of side effects triggered by the use of albendazole

The drug is also known to trigger some minor side effects which are relatively common. These include stiffness of neck, turning highly sensitive to light, being in a confused state of mind, loss of hair, drowsiness, etc. In case of hair loss, this is only a temporary sign and you are more likely to witness regrowth of lost hair soon (especially, when you have stopped taking this medicine). Most of these side effects are likely to go away on their own once your system gets used to the active ingredients.

This drug is relatively safe on most people. Many people who used albendazole very rarely reported about adverse side effects or serious allergic reactions.  However, a few users witnessed some allergies in the form of skin conditions, hives and inflammation of facial parts as well as oral organs like lips, tongue or throat.

You are advised to seek medical attention upon noticing convulsions, fits or seizures, increase in body temperature, tremors and soreness of throat or other flu-type infections. In some rare cases, a few users have experienced drowsiness, acute spells of dizziness, abdominal discomforts like acute spells of nausea, etc. In equally remote instances, some people witnessed ringing inside their ears, severe episodes of migraines or headaches, blurring of eyesight as well as pain around the eyes.

This drug may suppress the functioning of bone marrow; hence, testing your blood count is essential before the start of the treatment plan. Also, those who recently underwent an eye surgery or those living with an eye condition must inform their medical team about their ophthalmic medical history. Last but not least, if you had developed prior allergies to drugs like mebendazole or other similar compositions, your pharmacist as well as your treating physician must be fully aware of such prior hypersensitivities.

You need to remember that these side effects – listed above – do not constitute a complete list of all discomforts. It is hence possible to observe a few unlisted or unknown signs. In all such instances, you are advised to consult your treating physician or pharmacist without delay. Those in the US can call 911 for immediate medical attention. As an alternative, you may also reach out to the helpline contacts of the food and drug administration. It is important to know that this federal agency keeps a tab on the all the drugs it clears. On the other hand, those who are residents of Canada are urged to reach out to Health Canada or a poison control center located nearer to your home.

In sum, albendazole is a vermicide and it has the clearance of the FDA to stop infestations of tapeworms. However, this drug is also used for stopping macro-parasites like filarial worms, whipworms as well as controlling clinical conditions like hydatid diseases. This medicine is relatively safe on most users. It is only in very rare cases some people have developed a few adverse reactions or allergies. However, you are advised to consult your treating physician or pharmacist upon experiencing any adverse reactions or side effects.

Leave a Reply