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Definition of Dysentery

Dysentery is an intestinal inflammation that usually takes place in the in the colon, and can result in severe diarrhoea with mucus or blood in the faeces.

There are two types of dysentery:

Bacillary dysentery which is caused by Shigella, a type of bacteria. Amoebic dysentery (amoebiasis) which is caused by Entamoeba histolytica, a type of amoeba found in the tropics, thereby affecting people in tropical countries.

Symptoms of Dysentery

The most common signs and symptoms of dysentery include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Watery diarrhoea which may contain blood, mucus or pus
  • Painful passing of stools
  • Intermittent constipation

If you have any/some/all of the above symptoms, prompt medical attention is advised.

Risks of Dysentery

You are more at risk of getting dysentery if:

  • You drink water from contaminated sources
  • You eat undercooked food, especially seafood or meat
  • You have an existing condition that weakens the immune system such as diabetes, organ transplant, AIDS, etc.
  • You have or are undergoing Chemotherapy
  • You consumed improperly stored food
  • You live in areas with poor sanitation
  • Have or are travelling to developing countries

Diagnosis of Dysentery

In order to confirm a diagnosis of dysentery, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and then carry out a physical exam.

If the problem is not diagnosed in the physical exam, the following tests may be recommended:

  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopy

Treatment of Dysentery

Once the diagnosis of dysentery is confirmed, treatment will be given depending on the severity of the symptoms. If symptoms are not severe and the doctor determines it is Bacillary dysentery (Shigella), there is little or no medication required and the illness goes away within a week.

If your doctor diagnoses amoebic dysentery, you will be probably start with a 10-day course of an antimicrobial medication, such as Flagyl (metronidazole). Diloxanide furoate, paromomycin , or iodoquinol, depending on the severity of symptoms.

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