Albendazole is a generic name for a medication that treats parasitic worm infestations in humans. It’s marketed under the brand name Albenza.
Albendazole belongs to a group of drugs known as anthelmintics, or commonly called deworming pills that clear out parasitic worm infestations in the body. Albendazole is a first line treatment against pork tapeworm infections, which can cause neurocysticercosis, a condition marked by swelling in the brain, seizures and vision problems.
Albendazole can also treat dog tapeworm infestations that cause cystic hydatid disease marked by organ damage.
Albendazole is effective against flatworms that cause trematodes and fasciolosis; tapeworms that cause cysticercosis and echinococcosis; pinworms, whipworms, hookworms and other nematodes that cause enterobiasis, trichuriasis, toxocariasis, ascariasis, strongyloidiasis, trichostrongyliasis, capillariasis, cutaneous larva migrans, filariasis; and fly larvae that cause myiasis.
Albendazole treats parasitic worm infections by preventing the worm from absorbing glucose, so the parasite eventually dies.
Albendazole is prescribed for both children and adults. Deworming is recommended at least once every six months for children as well as adults. It’s particularly important for children as worm infestations can negatively impact a growing child’s health, education and overall livelihood. Worm infestations in particular can cause anemia, lower nutrient absorption by the gastrointestinal tract, decrease growth, prevent weight gain, impair cognition and mental development, and inhibit the ability of the immune system to fight off other diseases.
Albendazole is on the List of Essential Medicines compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO). Medications on this list are considered paramount in a basic health care system. As a result, Albendazole doses are available for very affordable prices around the world, except in the United States, where a dose can cost as much as 50 US dollars.
Albendazole may also be used against lymphatic filariasis, microsporidiosis and giardiasis.
Albendazole is available as swallowable and chewable tablets. Inactive ingredients in Albendazole tablets include starch, sodium saccharin, carnauba wax, povidone, lactose monohydrate, hypromellose, sodium lauryl sulfate, microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate, D-mannitol, sodium starch glycolate and artificial flavors and colors.
Dosage will vary depending on patient weight and physician recommendation. The length of treatment will vary depending on the type of infection being treated.
Albendazole is usually taken two times a day with meals. Tablets can be crushed and mixed in with food or water if a child has trouble swallowing a tablet whole.
Albendazole should be taken exactly as prescribed without missing doses for the infection to clear out. Dosage should be followed even when feeling better to prevent the infection from returning.
Warnings and Precautions
Do not take Albendazole if allergic to any of the ingredients in the drug, mebendazole or similar anthelmintics.
Albendazole may not be safe with certain medicines, especially theophylline. Tell the prescribing physician about other prescription or nonprescription drugs, herbal supplements or vitamins being taken.
Do not take Albendazole if pregnant, attempting to get pregnant or breastfeeding without consulting a doctor.
Patients with a history of liver disease, or are about to undergo surgery, including dental, should seek medical advice before or when taking Albendazole.
Albendazole may cause the following side effects:
Hair loss (reversible)
Side effects are not limited to the above.
Patients taking Albendazole for neurocysticercosis must immediately call a doctor if any of these side effects occur: seizures, extreme tiredness and changes in behavior.