Everything You Need to Know About Dysentery
Do you remember your mother scolding you for not washing your hands properly before eating your food? One of the most common infections caused due to infections, parasites, and germs is dysentery disease. Hence, washing your hands properly with soap and water is important, especially before eating.
What is dysentery?
Dysentery, also referred to as ‘bloody flux’ and ‘bloody diarrhoea’, is an infection of the intestine containing blood or mucus causing diarrhea. Majorly there are two types of dysentery:
- Bacillary Dysentery, also known as ‘shigellosis’, is the most common type of dysentery. It is caused due to the infection by Shigella bacteria.
- Amoebic Dysentery, also known as ‘amebiases’, is the other main type of dysentery. It is less common than Bacillary Dysentery and is caused due to infection from a single cell parasite called Entamoeba.
Without proper and timely treatment, dysentery can prove to be fatal. If you notice symptoms of dysentery in yourself or the people around you, it is important to go to the hospital as soon as possible.
What causes dysentery?
Shigella bacteria and Entamoeba parasite are the two major dysentery causes. People who live in warmer climates and do not have access to proper sanitization and hygiene practices are more prone to catching these bacteria and parasites.
Some other causes of dysentery and catching these bacteria and parasites are:
- Coming in contact with the faecal matter of other people who have dysentery
- Having sexual contact with someone suffering from dysentery
- Drinking contaminated water
- Eating contaminated food
- Swimming in lakes and ponds with contaminated water
- Not washing hands properly after going to the loo
- Touching surfaces contaminated by dysentery bacteria and parasite
What are the symptoms of dysentery?
Some of the common dysentery symptoms are:
- Excessive diarrhoea containing blood and mucus
- Constant urge to empty the bowel
- Fever and cold
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Body pain and fatigue
- Intermittent constipation
How is dysentery diagnosed?
Once someone catches a dysentery infection, he/she might not show symptoms immediately. Symptoms will become visible in 1-2 days. If treated properly, the infection can be controlled in one week. If left untreated or diagnosed late, the situation can worsen with time.
If you are suffering from dysentery and visit a doctor, he/she will ask you a variety of questions. You will be expected to share your recent travel details, if any. Knowing your travel history will allow the doctor to diagnose your condition better.
Dysentery infections are known to travel with passengers from one country to another. Some of the countries which are very prone to dysentery and have a high rate of it are Mali, Angola, Pakistan, Madagascar, India, Zambia, Uganda, Gambia, etc.
Subsequently, the doctor will ask you to get some blood tests done along with collecting your stool sample. The stool sample will then be analysed in the laboratory to diagnose dysentery and its type.
What is the treatment for dysentery?
Mild dysentery can be treated easily with medication and the intake of a lot of fluids. It is very important to follow oral rehydration to fight fatigue and dehydration.
In case of mild shigellosis, the doctor will recommend plenty of fluid intake, rest, and some painkillers to relieve abdominal cramping and body pain. In case of severe shigellosis, the doctor might prescribe some strong antibiotics.
Similarly, amoebic dysentery can also be treated with fluid, plenty of rest, and antibiotics. The doctor might prescribe drugs with salts like metronidazole and tinidazole to kill the parasites in the intestine. Additionally, in case of severe weakness and fatigue, doctors also prescribe intravenous drugs to combat dehydration.
What are the risk factors for dysentery?
With proper care and medication, dysentery can be treated easily. Only a few risk factors are associated with dysentery, which affects very few. Some of the possible risk factors are:
- Very low potassium levels can lead to heart failure.
- Bloodstream infections are more likely for people who already have a very weak immune system, like HIV and cancer patients.
- Seizures, especially for young children who have already had a history of seizures.
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome spreads toxins in the bloodstream and can lead to kidney failure.
- Brain damage due to parasites spreads to other parts of the body.
When should I see my healthcare provider?
If you are experiencing symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, and abdominal pain after having mistakenly consumed contaminated food and water, we recommend you visit a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Also, visit the hospital if you have just finished travelling and experience these symptoms immediately after. If diagnosed on time, dysentery can be easily cured. Once you have been diagnosed with dysentery, started taking proper medication and still cannot notice an improvement in your condition, visit the doctor again without any delay. He/she will treatment plan depending on the situation and what your body requires.
How to reduce the risk of dysentery
If you live in an infection and contamination-prone area, here are some preventive measures you can follow to prevent dysentery.
- Avoid sharing your towels with others
- Always wash your hands properly with soap and water before eating
- Do laundry regularly with a good detergent
- Do not drink water from unknown sources
- Try to drink boiled water
- Wash your fruits and vegetables properly before consumption
- Avoid eating raw vegetables; boil them before consumption
- Try to use clean and regularly sanitized toilets
It is very important to take proper care while suffering from dysentery. Remember to follow preventive measures to stop the spread of dysentery infection. If you or your loved ones are suffering from dysentery and want to get immediate treatment, visit the CK Birla Hospital near you. Or you can also book an appointment with Dr ___ to treat your infection quickly and efficiently.
Q1. Can dysentery cause death?
Only if it is left untreated for a long time can it be fatal or cause other complications. Otherwise, dysentery is a very common infectious disease which can be cured with proper medication and symptoms.
Q2. Which food is good for dysentery?
It is recommended to avoid spicy and oily food in dysentery. Simple and bland food like bananas, white rice, boiled potatoes, porridge, and oatmeal is good food to eat while suffering from dysentery.
Q3. What is the difference between diarrhoea and dysentery?
Diarrhoea is a very common infection where patients just suffer from watery stool, whereas in dysentery, patients experience diarrhoea with inflammation of the intestines. The stool in dysentery infections can also have mucus and blood in it.
Q4. What can I do at home for dysentery?
Along with following prescribed medications, you can follow some simple home remedies for dysentery, like drinking a lot of fluids like coconut water, watermelon juice, green tea, etc. Also, rest your body properly and eat simple, bland food.
Q5. How can I stop dysentery and stomach pain?
It is preferable to ask your doctors to recommend some painkillers to stop abdominal pain and cramping during dysentery.