Saturday, March 23, 2013

I don't know what's wrong with my child... (and an almost magic bullet)

If you're a parent, I need you to read this post.

And then I need you to share it with every parent you know.

Not because it's particularly well written, or because I'm trying to build my blog readership. And not because I'm being paid - I'm not.

But because the information below changed my life. And those of lots of other parents and children who were suffering, really suffering, and didn't know what was wrong.

And it's something so simple. Not mumbo jumbo or new-fangled. But a simple, age-old child-health issue that is not well-publicised. And it needs to be, because according to medical research it affects 70% of children in the UK.

If you have kids between 2-7 and they are:
  • out-of-character
  • agitated 
  • uncomfortable in their skins
  • tantrumming a lot
  • nightwaking, agitated at night - twitching, crying out in sleep
  • really angry
  • tummy aches, constipation
  • itching their bum and/ or vulva 
  • craving sugar... 
Then I really recommend you read on. And if it doesn't apply to you now, file it in your brain for future reference. (And what I'm writing about isn't exclusive to this age range at all, it can affect the whole family - it just seems to be the most common age and the most severe symptoms.)

Our story...

We couldn't cope. Really couldn't cope.

Our child was tantruming multiple times a day. She was, and I do not use this term lightly, like a child possessed. She was deeply uncomfortable in her skin. She was on sugar benders, endlessly needing more food, never satisfied. Nightwaking. Furious on waking, going straight into a tantrum. Grinding her teeth. Sometimes constipated. Often had a sore vulva. It was leading to school refusal, deep family turmoil and exhaustion. We didn't know what was wrong, or what we could do. Month after month. The doctor couldn't help nor could books, school, friends, family or Dr Google. And then our second daughter started to echo this behaviour. It was our lowest point in family life - we couldn't cope, couldn't cure, didn't know where to start.

I sound like I might be hamming it up. I'm not. I called the Samaritans. It was THAT serious.

And then, one day, when I was melting down on a private Facebook group, another mother made a suggestion that changed our lives.

Have you considered worms? she suggested, tactfully.

No, not earthworms, but tiny worms, threadworms, pin worms, that live in the guts, and come out and lay their eggs at night.

I know, it ain't pleasant, and I'm sorry if I've just put you off your breakfast.

Sure I knew about worms - I had looked out for them, considered them as a possibility. I had checked her poos, and she didn't seem to itch her bum: my girls had none of the well-known signs. So I had discounted them.

But this mama said, and I say too, that all the symptoms that I listed at the top of the post, are the other, real symptoms which are less well publicised, that we parents aren't aware of. But they are on the homeopathic list of symptoms for worms. And on the piece of paper that comes with the medication for them. And what is more, your kiddies might not have all the symptoms, just one, or a couple . And a lot of them are common behaviours for kiddies that age anyway. And if the infestation has been going on for a while, you might just think that your child is just a very challenging child, or going through the terrible twos, or have a food intolerance, or is quite disturbed...


First we tried the homeopathic treatment on the recommendation of a trained homeopath mama on the same Facebook page: Cina. We could only get 6C in our local area and it didn't work. Apparently you need 30C or 200C. (Again I ain't a homeopath, get further advice).

So then we tried the over the counter cure - (in Ireland it is available without prescription, it is my understanding that a prescription is needed in the UK and US). Vermox. It is a one tablet treatment. A pack of 6 tablets costs €3.50, and the whole family needs to be treated at the same time, the same as with nits and other infectious parasites. It is not an expensive or lengthy treatment. And the tablets are chewable or can be swallowed in one. We all found them easy to take.

Within three days we had our girls back again. They were sleeping, not sugar craving, infintely calmer. We went from 2-3 tantrums a day, to 1 in  a whole 3 weeks. We went from school refusing to happily skipping off to school with a smile on her face. The anger was gone. The tooth grinding was much less. The sore yoni, the wriggling, the constipation. Gone, gone, gone.

I don't mean to be evangelical, but that is the truth. For the first time in months, perhaps a year, parenting our children was a pleasure, they were happy, relaxed.

And all because of one tiny tablet.

And they are not without mild side effects. We all had tummy aches for a few days. But even us adults felt better, and again we had had no itchy bum symptoms either.

And then, three weeks later, to the day, the symptoms started to come on again. At exactly the time a second follow up dose is required. Then we knew we were not living in cloud cuckoo land, that it definitely was not a placebo. Another dose, and three days later calm was restored. Our first dose was 2nd of February. That was the day our lives changed. And since then we have had 2 tantrums!

Now I know many of you natural mamas don't like medication. That's fine, find your own paths. There are natural remedies, like garlic on the butt hole, and hideous herbal concoctions. But even the writers of books on herbal remedies admit how hard it is to treat naturally, and how easy it is with one, possibly two hits of Vermox.

 A little more about worms:

The eggs are tiny, pretty much invisible to the naked eye, the females (thin white threads about 5-10 mm long) crawl out of the guts where they live to lay them round the anus at night, their life cycle is about 3 weeks.

You don't catch them from family pets, but from fruit and veggies, and from other people - think about little kiddies itching their bottoms and then, at some point putting their fingers in your mouth or theirs, or on something that goes into your mouth, that's why they're so easy to catch, and spread so quickly amongst little kids. Their eggs can even be transported as dust. See more here...

Along with treatment, you need to make sure bedding is washed regularly, and handwashing is prioritised.

In the past families used to worm their kiddies a couple of times a year, just like they do with their family pets. But now we are not told about it.

On a mission...

So I'm making it my mission to change that. We have told the school. I am going to write something for school. And am going to approach our health authorities. All it would take is an information leaflet given to every parent at the two-year-old check up. Just a mention to parents at well-child check ups. Because it's 70% of kids we're talking about. And it's something which doctors aren't talking about (I took both my girls for check ups with all of these "other" symptoms mentioned and neither doctor picked up on it as a possibility.) It's only a little thing, but it has such an enormous effect on children's, and family's lives.

I am writing this post, because everyone who knows me says I must. Because of how much it has changed our lives. And how it could change yours.

Please note I am NOT since last time you read this suddenly a medical doctor - so do your own research, ask a professional, talk to your doctor, your pharmacist, be a grown up! But I just really wanted you to know.


  1. WOW Lucy I heard about the teeth grinding but honestly thought it was a myth. Very informative post thanks x

  2. I'm feeling kind of terrified right now. :/
    I have actually JUST requested gluten testing on my daughter for her "fits" and I currently give her Calms Forté to help her stay asleep at night (and she is still waking sometimes). She goes through phases where she complains of tummy ache. She itches her butthole and sometimes her vulva hurts, though we usually attribute that last one to her picking at herself none too gently.

    I'm breastfeeding and there seems to be some debate as to whether he medication can effect lactation.

    Did you do any testing for the worms or just treat? I'm thinking of checking her anus after sleep tonight... which seems like such a creepy thing to do, but...

  3. Hey Momma Jorje,

    Yup, sounds like it to my amateur ear. You can look at night, we didn't but friends have and have seen them, you can check the poo, you can put a piece of sellotape over the anus at night to catch some. Depending on where you live you may HAVE to see a Dr before you can get medication anyway, but we decided to treat anyway - the side effects are not severe, the cost small and treatment so short... I would REALLY look into it.

    1. I passed the post along on my Momma Jorje page on Facebook, but also on the volunteers group for NPN - and someone said she gives her family food grade diatomaceous earth regularly to treat for any kind of worms. Had you heard of this treatment? I also searched for an OTC medication here in the US and found one, I think.

      CDC says the prevalence in the US is 50% where you find children and/or caregivers.

  4. Wow, I would never have thought of this as a possible problem at all! Unless the kids were losing weight. Apart from the sellotape test is there any other way to ascertain whether they have them or not?

  5. Thanks Lucy! my youngest had them when she was at playgroup. she had a stomach ache, and was not herself at all, took her to the docs, who said, "probably just a virus" later on, she filled her "pull ups" with a most horrendous sight. Poo mixed with what looked like a very bad infestation of worms. it was horrific. I phoned the doc who said "I've sent a prescription to the pharmacy" we all had the meds, and have checked for them since. I discovered that I had them recently, after a bout of stomach ache, My mom blamed our animals, (typical) so I had a mini falling out with her. Just keep the finger nails clean, wash your hands and change the bedding regularly and just check bums now and again. it is worth a moments hassle, because its such a horrid thing. It should be a twice yearly thing, like we do with our animals, very much worth it, and I support you on this totally!

    Many blessings for sharing your story,


  6. Great post, Lucy. So important to get this information out there. I find it shocking that the public health nurses don't mention this and suggest twice-yearly treatment.

  7. Thank you for such an informative post - I'm thinking about my three year old's night wakings, crying, sugar cravings - I don't know if it's just being a typical three year old or maybe I need to look into the possibility of worms...

    1. Thanks, Office Mum.
      I'd suggest looking into it. That's one reason ours went untreated for so long, because our girls are 2 and 4 and it was hard differentiating extreme toddler behaviour from this wormy behaviour, especially as we had no visible evidence of worms to go on at all.

  8. We've had them and they did pretty much wave at me from the toilet so not too hard to spot. Another good tip is to wear undies at night under Pjs as the eggs can get on PJs - with undies at least you can make sure they are clean every day. I also iron all bedding to make sure we kill them. Treatment is available over the counter in the UK but is not cheap (I think cost me about £17).

    1. Yes, so many good points that I forgot to add in - yes, we insisted on underwear at night. Great idea about ironing - my children have only seen me ironing once and wondered what it was!

      Good to hear you can get some treatment over the counter in the UK. What a price difference - it's usually we in Ireland who pay through the nose for medications. But still £17 is what an ordinary dose of antibiotics costs here, so we wouldn't consider it too bad!

  9. Our kids got worms about 6 months ago and we got Pin-x from the pharmacy. We saw little wormies in their poop so we knew fairly quickly. Now just to be on the safe side I make them all eat raw pumpkin seeds a few times a month, because pumpkin seeds kill them too...The kids don't like them plain so I pour melted butter over the raw seeds and salt them a bit and then they love it! I didn't know worms could make kids grumpy. Thanks for that info!

    1. Thanks Holly - totally forgot to mention the pumpkin seed thing - a friend said she'd used them too - great tip for making them more desirable for little ones. My understanding is that they act kind of like egg shells do will worms - not that they kill them, but they're sharp and gritty and the worms can't live on them.

  10. Gosh! I've never heard anyone talk about this - and haven't heard of these symptoms being related to it! Thank you for the post :-) It has really made me think. I feel a bit nervous about checking for proof ... but may treat just in case! Nelsons online homeopathy pharmacy have a 'made to order' option for remedies at different potencies and forms (pills, powder, etc) including cina. I'm so happy to hear about the great result for your family and glad that you posted about it xx (ps.have just been told that Ovex is the uk over-the-counter medicine)

  11. Hi Lucy - Found this post via Juno Magazine and feel I am meant to be here for more than this one reason. From what I've read so far I'm loving the energy of your blog xx My eldest has displayed some of the symptoms of worms and I've umm'ed and ahh'ed about it but your post has made me think that it is time to act and treat our whole family as my youngest has in recent weeks talked about an Owwie tummy and itchiness. We have found Pripsen sachets online which treat both threadworm and roundworm from 3 months of age onwards. Thank you for sharing this post. I'll have to pop back to let you know how we get on xx

  12. Yes, its one of those bits of childhood that you dont want to believe your child will get. They do and they will get it again and again! The tablet works and you get your wonderful children back again.

  13. Need to show this to my sister but she is stubborn.ive emailed, texted and private messaged the link as it is so much to copy and paste. I have suggested worms but she shrugs it off. She has two girls in this age range with those symptoms. What's the bets now ive written this she will see it.

  14. Need to show this to my sister but she is stubborn.ive emailed, texted and private messaged the link as it is so much to copy and paste. I have suggested worms but she shrugs it off. She has two girls in this age range with those symptoms. What's the bets now ive written this she will see it.

  15. I told you you needed to write this post! Look how many people you've helped :-) We are definitely going to get treated as now you've pointed it out to us, we think this has been plaguing our family for a while too. Thank you!

    1. You were right as always, my dear wise friend x Glad it's helped you too!

  16. Thank you for this post which had unbelievable timing for me. My little girl shocked me by having worms in her stool after waking recently. She had been unwell but after taking the first dose of medicine she had the symptoms above extremely badly (constant tantrums vs almost unheard of, night waking screaming many times a night, etc for 5 days). We are due to give her second dose this weekend, and I was wondering did you and your little ones have a bad reaction on second dose of medicine?

    1. Hi Diablette - With our girls the symptoms got better after about 3 days both times, not worse... we all had tummy aches for a few days after both doses- hope the second dose does the trick. Big love mama, it's a challenging time xx

    2. Thank you for the reply. She wouldn't be able to tell me she has a tummy ache, so I know to expect that tomorrow.

  17. Wow - such an important post, I had absolutely no idea of these symptoms!

    Am sharing on Twitter and FB, Alice x

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  19. So glad it's not just us! Unfortunately they just seem to keep coming back but will try pumpkin seeds now too... xxx



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