Dysentery is an intestinal inflammation of the colon. It leads to stomach cramps and severe diarrhea with mucus or blood in the excreted matter. It can be fatal without adequate hydration. The most common cause is infection with the shigella bacillus or bacterium. Dysentery is an infection of the intestinal tract whose major symptoms include stomach cramps and diarrhea. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms and the treatment of dysentery. Read on to find out everything that you need to know about dysentery.
In this article:
All You Need to Know about Dysentry
Causes of Dysentry
The most common cause of dysentery is shigella bacillus. There are two main types of dysentery as follows:
Bacillary Dysentery or Shigellosis
This type of dysentery produces the worst symptoms. It is caused by the notorious shigella bacillus. Poor hygiene is the main source of this disease. Shigellosis can also spread because of unhygienic food. In western europe and the u.s., it is the most common type of dysentery.
Amoebic Dysentery or Amoebiasis
This type of dysentery is caused by entamoeba histolytica (e. Histolytica), an amoeba. The amoebae group together to form a cyst, so that these cysts emerge from the body in the form of human feces. In areas with poor sanitation, the amoebae usually contaminate food and water and infect human beings. They can also linger on people’s hands after using the bathroom. Good hygiene practice usually reduces the risk of spreading infection. It is more common in the tropics, particularly the third world countries, but it sometimes occurs in parts of rural canada as well. Other causes of dysentery include a parasitic worm infection, chemical irritation, or viral infection.
Symptoms of Dysentry
Symptoms of dysentery include diarrhea and stomach cramps. These symptoms largely depend on the quality of sanitation in the areas where infection has spread. In developed countries, signs and symptoms of dysentery tend to be milder than in developing nations or tropical areas, due to the living conditions.
Mild symptoms of dysentery include:
- A slight stomach-ache in the affected person.
- Mild to severe cramps.
- Mild to severe diarrhea.
These symptoms usually appear from a couple of days after infection, and the patient usually recovers within a week. Some people also develop lactose intolerance, which can last for a long time, so be careful about that.
Symptoms of Bacillary Dysentery
Symptoms tend to appear within a few days of the onset of the infection. There is normally a mild stomach ache accompanied by diarrhea, but no blood or mucus in the feces. Diarrhea may be frequent in the beginning. The less common symptoms are:
- Blood or mucus in the feces or excreted matter.
- mild to intense abdominal pain.
- Fever for a while.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Severe vomiting with blood.
The symptoms are often so mild that a doctor’s visit is not required, and the problem resolves in a few days. However, be careful about this.
Symptoms of Amoebic Dysentery
A person who has amoebic dysentery may have:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Fever and chills in the whole body
- Nausea accompanied by vomiting
- Diarrhea containing blood, mucus, or pus
- The painful passing of stools
- Intermittent constipation
If the amoeba travels through the intestinal wall, then they can spread into the bloodstream and infect other organs. Ulcers can also develop. These ulcers may bleed, causing blood in stools. Symptoms may persist for several weeks, because the amoebae may continue living within the human host after symptoms have gone. Then, symptoms may recur again when the person’s immune system is weaker. Treatment reduces the risk of the amoebae surviving, so be very quick about it.
Treatment for Dysentry
Usually, the lab results will reveal whether the infection is due to shigella or entamoeba histolysis infection. If treatment is necessary, then it will depend upon these results. However, any patient with diarrhea or vomiting should drink plenty of fluids in order to prevent dehydration. If they are unable to drink, or if diarrhea and vomiting are excessive, then intravenous (iv) fluid replacement may be necessary. The patient will be placed on a drip and monitored by doctors.
Treatment for Mild Bacillary Dysentery
Mild bacillary dysentery, the kind that is commonly found in developed countries with good sanitation, will normally resolve without treatment. However, the patient should strive to drink plenty of fluids. In more severe cases, antibiotic drugs are available for proper treatment.
Treatment for Amoebic Dysentery
Amoebicidal medications are used to treat the second type of dysentery, which is entamoeba histolysis. These will ensure that the amoeba does not survive inside the body long after symptoms have resolved. Flagyl, or metronidazole, is the drug often used to treat dysentery. It treats both the bacteria as well as the parasites. If lab results are unclear, then the patient might be provided with a combination of antibiotic and amoebicidal medications. This depends on how severe their symptoms are.
Therefore, to conclude, dysentery is not life threatening in most cases. If you take proper measures on time, then there is nothing to worry about. However, always consult a doctor for further course of action.