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What Is Thiabendazole?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated May 17, 2024
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Thiabendazole is a generic medication that treats intestinal worms, including roundworm, pinworm, and hookworm. It kills parasites that invade the body through contact with animal feces or poor hygiene practices. Thiabendazole also prevents fungal growth and pests on agricultural products and is used in the textile manufacturing process. When used as an anti-worm medication, it generally requires a doctor’s prescription.

The dosage of thiabendazole depends upon body weight. Patients might take the drug from two days up to seven days, depending on the type of parasite in the intestinal tract. It comes in liquid and tablet forms, with the tablet typically chewed after a meal. Taking the medication on a full stomach might help prevent nausea, vomiting, or dizziness associated with the drug.

Intestinal worms can live in the body for years without causing symptoms. When symptoms appear, they generally include diarrhea and abdominal pain. A person might also feel bloated and pass excessive gas. Some people vomit, lose weight, and feel tired most of the time. An itchy rectum is another sign that worms might be present, along with seeing worms in the stool.

Children and the elderly face higher risks of intestinal parasites. Traveling to areas known for poor sanitation practices also raises the risk of contracting worms. The worms pass to people from infected feces in water and food, and when people use the toilet and do not wash their hands. These parasites also live in soil infected with animal feces. People with a compromised immune system face a greater chance of infection from parasites.

The most common side effects from thiabendazole include headache, dizziness, dry eyes, and ringing in the ears. Other signs that may appear include a loss of appetite, severe nausea or diarrhea, and tingling of the feet and hands. Some cases of confusion and hallucinations have been reported. Urinary changes represent less common reactions to the medication. Urine might become dark, or pain may be present when voiding, along with an unusual odor.

Thiabendazole is not recommended for children under 30 pounds (13.6 kg). It might also cause complications for people who suffer from liver or kidney diseases, and those with allergies to the medication. Doctors usually do not prescribe the drug for pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers because it is unknown if the drug harms a fetus or baby.

Pinworms may spread among people if they touch infected areas, and sometimes an entire family is treated with thiabendazole. Doctors suggest disinfecting toilets on a daily basis and laundering undergarments of infected individuals. Towels, linens, and night clothing should also be washed after each use.

Worms might be avoided by covering sandboxes so animals do not use them as litter boxes. Household pets can be treated for worms and prohibited from beaches or areas where children play in the dirt. Parasites form after larvae from animal waste enter the human body.

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