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10 Emergency Medical Procedures That Can Be Done on the Fly


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Removing a Parasitic Worm
Normally, if you have a parasitic worm in your body, you should get a prescription for some anti-nematode medication.  But in desperate circumstances, you can pull it out yourself. © 2016 HowStuffWorks, a division of Infospace LLC
Normally, if you have a parasitic worm in your body, you should get a prescription for some anti-nematode medication. But in desperate circumstances, you can pull it out yourself. © 2016 HowStuffWorks, a division of Infospace LLC

Have any rough patches inside your mouth? If so, beware. Jon Allen, a biology professor at the College of William & Mary, felt a rough patch at the back of his mouth in December 2012. The patch disappeared and reappeared for several months, always in the back of his throat where he could feel it with his tongue but not see what, exactly, it was. Or even touch it. Then the patch moved under his lip, in the membrane lining his mouth. As a specialist in invertebrates, Allen immediately realized it was some kind of parasitic worm [sources: McClain, Moye].

Allen went to an oral surgeon to have it removed, but the surgeon deemed it merely skin discoloration. However, Allen knew it was a worm. So early the next morning, after taking his young son to the bathroom, Allen grabbed a pair of No. 5 super-fine-tip forceps and pulled out the worm. His wife aimed a flashlight at the medicine cabinet mirror so he was able to see well enough to operate on himself. The worm was 3/4-inch (2 centimeters) long and was later identified as the nematode Gongylonema pulchrum, a parasitic genus typically found in livestock. Allen is only the 13th American and 60th person in the world known to have this worm. But now researchers think it might be much more common, but simply misdiagnosed [sources: McClain, Moye].

Normally, if you have a parasitic worm in your body, you should get a prescription for some anti-nematode medication [source: Veronese]. But just in case your doctor doesn't believe you and won't prescribe it, now you know you can pull it out yourself.