Albendazole is used to treat parasitic worm infections of the intestines and so
me other organs. It is also effective against individual unicellular organisms (protozoal infections, ex. Giardia) and belongs to a class of medicines called ‘Anti-helminthics.’
Uses of Albendazole
- Intestinal and skin infections due to parasites and worms, such as round-worm (Ascariasis), tapeworm (Taeniasis), pin-worm (Enterobiasis), hook-worm (Ancylostomiasis), thread-worm (Strongyloidiasis), whip-worm (Trichuriasis), chinese liver flukes (Clonorchiasis, Opisthorchiasis)...
- Parasitic intestinal infection causing stomach pain and loose motions (Giardiasis)
- Skin infections due to hookworms (Cutaneous Larva Migrans)
- Worm infections of rest of the body (Systemic Helminthic Infections)
- Hydatid worm or Hydatid tapeworm infection, most commonly of the liver and lungs. Brain muscles and kidneys can also be affected (Cystic Echinococcosis, caused by Echinococcus
- A worm infection of the liver than can spread to spleen, lungs and the brain (Alveolar Echinoccus caused by Echinococcus Multilocularis)
- Albendazole is used as supportive treatment to surgery in the above 2 cases
- A severe brain disease causing fits (seizures) caused by pork tapeworm (Neurocysticercosis)
- When there is formation of cysts (fluid-filled cavities) in the brain,
- Albendazole can be of greater use
Contraindications of Albendazole
When should one not use Albendazole
Patients with known allergic reaction to Albendazole or any other components of the medicine.
Side effects of Albendazole
Common side effects of this drug are:
- Headache, feeling dizzy, thinning of hair or hair loss, fever, stomach pain, vomiting, feeling sick (nausea), elevated liver enzymes (common)
- Decreased white blood cells (Leukopenia), allergic reactions of the skin such as rashes, itching, blisters, redness, liver diseases (uncommon)
- Abdominal pain or stomach pain
Precautions and Warnings of Albendazole
Can I take Albendazole during pregnancy?
Albendazole should not be used during pregnancy, as it has the potential to harm the unborn baby.
Can I take Albendazole while breastfeeding?
Not enough data is available, and it cannot be determined if Albendazole secretes in breastmilk. Therefore, breastfeeding mothers are advised not to take this medicine.
Can I drive if I have consumed Albendazole?
If you are taking Albendazole, be cautious while driving. Stay away from driving if you experience any side effects such as dizziness or tiredness.
Can I consume alcohol with Albendazole?
Drinking alcohol could increase the danger of liver problems. Albendazole can cause liver problems, and it is best to limit the consumption of alcohol (for occasional drinking).
Other General Warnings
Talk to your doctor if
- Liver problems (liver enzymes may elevate)
- Suppression of bone marrow and decreased blood cell counts (Pancytopenia, Aplastic Anemia, Agranulocytosis)
- Regular blood and liver tests are mandatory through the course of treatment
- You should inform your doctor before surgery regarding all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products)
Mode of Action of Albendazole
How Does It Work?
Albendazole disrupts the metabolism (a process that converts food to energy) of the parasites and parasitic worms and thus kills them by depriving them of glucose and energy. It is effective against the egg, larval, and adult stages of these worms....
Interactions of Albendazole
Interactions with other medicines
- Anti-seizure medications (Carbamazepine, Phenytoin, Phenobarbital)
- Antacid cimetidine (to reduce stomach acidity)
- Praziquantel (used to treat worm infections)
- Dexamethasone (suppresses immune response)
- Ritonavir (used to treat HIV/AIDS)
Interactions with food items
One has to take Albendazole with food. Empty stomach hinders absorption and leads to reduced therapeutic effect of medicine.
Dietary Restrictions of Albendazole
Avoid grapefruit juice as it increases the absorption of Albendazole and decreases its availability in the blood.
Dosage of Albendazole
Overdosing may also produce lethargy, loss of appetite, intestinal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other reported symptoms include dizziness, convulsions, and sleeplessness. Seek emergency medical help immediately in case you suspect overdose....
Missed a Dose
Take the missed dose as early as you remember. But if it is the time for next medicine, skip the missed dose and follow regular dosing schedule.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What else should I know before taking Albendazole?
- Albendazole should not be used in pregnancy or if you are planning pregnancy. Women of childbearing age are advised to take this medicine during their first week of menstruation or after a negative pregnancy test. Women should also take measures not to conceive (become or try for pregnancy) until one month after stopping this medicine...
- After starting the treatment, especially in brain infections, Albendazole will kill the parasites causing an immune response due to which a person can experience seizures(fits). Inform your doctor for necessary measures. Do not stop the treatment if this happens....
- It is advised to take this medicine with meals. Swallow the tablet with a glass of water. You can crush or chew the tablet if swallowing is not feasible.
Q: I suspect worm infections for my kid; can I start him on Albendazole?
A: Albendazole should be used only under medical supervision. It can cause some severe side effects, and you are advised not to self medicate. Albendazole can suppress the bone marrow and decrease blood cell counts. For this reason, it is advisable to stay away from cold or people suffering from cold, flu, or any other viral infections. When you are using Albendazole for liver infections, side effects may be severe. Regular blood tests and close monitoring are mandatory with this medicine. Liver function and blood tests need to be done before starting the treatment and once in every two weeks for each treatment cycle. Treatment with this medicine may have to be discontinued temporarily or permanently based on these tests.
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