Mebendazole is a type of medicine used in the fight against worm infections. It is most commonly used to combat digestive tract invaders such as threadworms (also known as pinworms) and some other less common worms like whipworm, roundworm, and hookworm. The medication works by interfering with the worms’ sugar (glucose) intake, effectively starving them to death. You can buy mebendazole from a pharmacy without a prescription if you’re 2 years or older, and a doctor can prescribe it for children as young as 6 months. You can take it as a chewable tablet or swallow it as a liquid.
The treatment schedule with mebendazole varies. For threadworms, a single dose often does the trick, but for other worm types, treatment might extend to three days. The medicine starts fighting the worms immediately, but it might take a few days to completely clear them out. It’s worth noting, though, that mebendazole doesn’t kill the eggs, so a second round of treatment in two weeks might be necessary. To keep the worms from coming back, maintaining good hygiene is vital. The most common side effect of the medication is a stomach upset. Often, a doctor or pharmacist will recommend that all members of a household take mebendazole to prevent re-infection.
Mebendazole can be taken by anyone over 2 years old, and by children between 6 months and 2 years under doctor’s supervision. Still, some people may not be able to safely use it. Before starting treatment, let your doctor or pharmacist know if any of the following apply to you:
Are you allergic to mebendazole or any other medication? Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? In such cases, it’s crucial to seek medical advice before taking mebendazole.
When and How to Take Mebendazole
Mebendazole comes in two forms: as a banana-flavored liquid and as orange tablets. It’s important to follow the instructions that come with your medication closely.
Your healthcare provider or pharmacist will guide you on the appropriate dosage of mebendazole, depending on the type of worm infection you have.
In the case of threadworms (also called pinworms), usually, a single dose is enough. It’s recommended that everyone in your household receives treatment simultaneously as threadworms can spread easily from person to person.
Your healthcare provider may advise a repeat dose after two weeks to ensure you don’t get re-infected with threadworms. This is because while mebendazole can kill the worms, it can’t destroy their eggs.
For other types of worm infections, like whipworm, roundworm, and hookworm, you’ll need to follow your doctor’s advice regarding how to take mebendazole. Typically, this involves taking a dose twice daily over three days.
You can choose to either chew the tablet or swallow it whole with some water, juice, or milk. It’s okay to take it with or without food. If you’re using the liquid form of the medication, it comes with a measuring spoon to ensure you get the correct dosage. If you don’t have a spoon, ask your pharmacist for one – don’t use a regular kitchen teaspoon as it won’t give you the accurate dose.
If you forget a dose of your twice-daily mebendazole and remember within four hours of the scheduled time, take it as soon as you can. However, if it’s been more than four hours since you were supposed to take it, skip the missed dose and just take the next one at the regular time.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Taking Mebendazole
Never try to make up for a missed dose of mebendazole by taking double the amount. If you accidentally take more than recommended, it usually doesn’t lead to harmful effects.
However, you might experience side effects like stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or loose stools. Common side effects, which can affect more than one in every hundred people, may include:
If you’re dealing with stomach discomfort, you can ease the pain by resting, eating smaller, frequent meals, and applying a warm compress to your stomach. If the discomfort becomes severe, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a healthcare professional.
Feeling bloated or gassy? Stick to simple meals and avoid spicy or fatty foods. Taking mebendazole after meals can help reduce these symptoms. If diarrhea sets in, remember to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Never take any medication for diarrhea without first consulting with a healthcare professional. If you’re on the contraceptive pill and experience severe diarrhea for more than 24 hours, you might need to take extra precautions to prevent pregnancy – check the information provided with your contraceptive for guidance.
If these tips on managing the side effects of mebendazole don’t bring relief, or if the side effects continue to be bothersome, get in touch with a healthcare provider for advice. Serious side effects must be taken seriously – if the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow, stop taking mebendazole immediately and contact a doctor or call 111. This could signal liver problems, though yellowing may be less noticeable on darker skin tones.
While rare, a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to mebendazole is possible. This list doesn’t cover all potential side effects; for a comprehensive list, please refer to the information leaflet in your medication packet.
Mebendazole During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Taking mebendazole during pregnancy is generally safe if necessary, even though threadworms aren’t typically harmful to you or your unborn child. However, it’s always best to try to manage worm infestations without medication, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy when your baby is developing.
Good hygiene practices are key. This includes washing your hands regularly, scrubbing under your nails, showering every morning, cleaning your toothbrush, trimming your nails short, frequently washing your pajamas, sheets, and towels, disinfecting kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and routinely dusting and vacuuming with a damp cloth. These practices should help clear up a worm infestation within 6 weeks. If they aren’t effective or feasible for you, consult your healthcare provider about potentially taking mebendazole.
If you’re dealing with a different type of worm, such as roundworm or hookworm, make sure to consult a physician about the best treatment option.
Breastfeeding mothers can take mebendazole if approved by a doctor or health visitor, provided the baby is in good health. Only a tiny amount of the drug enters breast milk, so it’s unlikely to cause any side effects in the baby.
However, if you notice any changes in your baby’s feeding patterns or if you have any other concerns, reach out to your health visitor, midwife, or doctor immediately. There’s no evidence that taking mebendazole affects fertility in men or women. Lastly, remember to consider potential interactions between mebendazole and other medications or herbal supplements you may be taking.
Interaction of Mebendazole with Other Medications
Always consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you’re taking other medications along with mebendazole. Different drugs can interact with one another, affecting how they work.
For example, metronidazole, commonly used to treat bacterial or protozoan infections, and cimetidine, often used to reduce stomach acid, could interact with mebendazole.
When it comes to combining mebendazole with complementary medicines, herbal remedies, or supplements, there isn’t enough data to confirm whether it’s safe. These products aren’t tested in the same way as conventional pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs, and there aren’t studies demonstrating how they interact with other medications.
For more information about mebendazole, you can visit the following website: fenbendazole.org.