Anthelmintic meds are used for the treatment of parasitic infections, especially those triggered by worms. It is safe to use meds which are cleared by food and drug administration (FDA) – a federal drug-approving authority. Ivermectin is one such med widely administered for treating infections caused by worms such as heartworms, hookworms and other parasites. This drug is also used for larger animals such as horses and cows as well as for pets like cats and dogs. But, can this anti-parasitic drug cause any major side effects? It is a key thing to know more on this before starting to take the doses.

Onset of infections caused by worms can be diagnosed by a few symptoms. Common among them are being weary or excessively tired, nausea, abdominal pains, vomiting, inexplicable decrease in weight, etc. Parasites are of different types. Tapeworms often invade your system when you eat raw or uncooked meat. On the other hand, parasites such as hookworms may enter your system when you step on stools or infested soil. Another category of worms – known as pinworms, mostly infect children. Eggs of these worms can be seen on clothing and bedding. You are advised to wash your hands properly soon after handling your garments or bed.

What is ivermectin?

Ivermectin is used for the treatment of infections triggered by a large range of parasitic worms including whipworms, ringworms, tapeworms and hookworms. This anthelmintic has the clearance of the US-based food and drug administration (FDA). Its main use is for the treatment of infections caused by worms. It is also endowed with a few antiviral properties; owing to these capabilities, it can act against a few viral strands; mainly those caused yellow fever, dengue, etc.

This drug is not an over the counter (OTC) drug. It needs to be taken as per the instructions and clinical guidance of a qualified medical practitioner. It is essential to test your stools regularly. Such diagnostic tests help understand the progress made. Dosages of ivermectin are to be taken prior to consuming a meal. It is recommended to take this med 60 to 90 minutes before taking food. If you have forgotten to take it before food, you may also consume it after a meal. In such instances, take it 2 or 3 hours after having a meal.

Two persons living with infections of parasitic worms may not have the same medication or dosage plan. The strength of your dosages is influenced by your gender, age, how serious is the infection, weight as well as onset of any prior medical conditions. People who have a weakened immunity level are advised to take upto two doses within a 24-hour timeline. However, the usual dosage is restricted to a single dose per day. If you have missed a dose, never double your next dose. This is an unsafe practice. Instead, go ahead with your next dose in a normal manner as per your medication plan.

Side effects ivermectin can cause

Like most other drugs, ivermectin causes a few undesired side effects. Common side effects and discomforts of ivermectin are abdominal discomforts like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. But, these adverse effects may cease to show up once your system gets used to this drug and to its key ingredients. So, if these side effects do not go away within a week, consult with your caregiving team without further delay.

Some users tend to take a larger dose of this med. This is again an unsafe practice. It can lead to very severe side effects. An excessive dosage level can cause seizures, convulsions or fits. A few users who took an overdose experienced near fatal results like slipping into coma and have also encountered a fatal outcome.

Ways to avoid side effects of ivermectin

In general, users with prior episodes of hypersensitivity or allergic spells must keep their caregiving team updated of such spells. It is a safe practice to share your medical history with your treating doctor. Those who are living with kidney problems, HIV AIDS as well as a few other autoimmune conditions such as cancers must make their caregiver aware of such conditions.

This drug is not regarded as safe for women who are pregnant. Women who are planning to become pregnant must use birth control pills or other non-hormonal measures to avoid unplanned pregnancy; common contraceptive measures include vaginal rings, skin patches, condoms, etc. Those who are pregnant and are infected by worms must talk to their treating physician for safer alternatives to treat their condition. Similarly, women who are nursing a newly born infant must keep away from ivermectin. This is mainly because this drug’s key chemicals can pass through mother’s milk. Infants who feed on such milk may develop sleeping or eating difficulties. In some babies, withdrawal symptoms may show up in the form of incessant crying, experiencing spells of fits or convulsions.

Ivermectin is known to interact adversely with blood thinning meds such as warfarin, coumadin, etc. Consumption of blood thinners may lead to bleeding profusely. So, it is highly recommended to make a list of drugs you are presently consuming. As you are making this list, ensure to add over the counter meds, prescription drugs, herbal aids and dietary supplements to this list. Never make alterations to your medication plans without telling your pharmacist as well as doctors.

A few best practices

Handwashing practice is an essential thing before eating your meal or if you are handling poultry or meat based foods including fish. This safety precaution is also recommended soon after changing diapers, touching your pet or if you are handling waste. Those who travel often are advised to consume bottled water. Last but not least, always eat cooked foods, carry handwashing soap or better still, use a hand sanitizer.

In sum, ivermectin is taken for treating infections caused by pinworms, hookworms, tapeworms, etc. Common side effects of ivermectin are nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Acute discomforts are experienced when you take larger doses; these acute effects include fits, breathing difficulties such as gasping for breath or wheezing. At times, very large dosages may cause death. Upon witnessing serious side effects, dial 911 or rush to a poison control center. The list of side effects mentioned above does not form a complete list. Hence, one may witness a few discomforts that are not listed here. Upon encountering any unknown or unlisted side effects soon after taking ivermectin, you are advised to talk to your caregiving team on an urgent basis.

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