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What Is the Difference Between Albendazole and Mebendazole?

Some people experience nausea and vomiting with mebendazole.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2014
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Albendazole and mebendazole are effective in the management of intestinal parasites, but albendazole tends to work better in cases where the organisms have formed cysts in muscles and organs. Patients can also tolerate therapy with albendazole better, which may be a consideration in some cases. The best treatment option for intestinal nematode infections can depend on the specific organisms involved, the patient’s age, and medical history, all of which can influence the choice of medication.

Both of these medications work to kill worms in the body. Albendazole and mebendazole are taken in oral doses of varying amounts, depending on the specifics of the infection. Worms in the gut can be killed through direct contact, while albendazole spreads through the bloodstream via intestinal absorption. When it reaches organisms encysted in organs like the liver or deep in the patient’s muscle tissue, it kills them, stopping the infection in its tracks.

Some patients may be advised to take combination therapy with these medications, or other mixtures of anti-parasitic agents. This can assure complete coverage for an infection, especially in a case where the patient has been colonized by multiple organisms. Treating just one might mean another is missed. Testing after the drug therapy is finished can determine the effectiveness of the treatment. It may be necessary to repeat the dose or to change medications.

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Another difference between albendazole and mebendazole that can be important is the patient’s tolerance for the drugs. Treatment with albendazole appears to be better tolerated, with fewer uncomfortable side effects like nausea and vomiting. If a patient had a bad reaction in the past to mebendazole, the other drug may be preferred to keep the patient more comfortable. Concerns may exist about drug interactions in the case of combination therapy or treatment for a patient already on another medication who cannot stop taking it.

The choice between albendazole and mebendazole in a specific case can depend on a number of factors. A medical provider may consider past experience, test results, and the patient’s history when selecting the best medication for the situation. Parasitic infections are common, can be very aggressive, and may cause serious complications if they are not treated promptly and effectively. This can be a significant concern in areas where they are endemic due to poor sanitation, making it highly likely patients will contract repeat infections for which they will need rapid treatment.

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