What is dysentery?

Dysentery is infection of the intestines that results to mucus or blood-streaked diarrhea. The other symptoms that might be present include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Painful abdominal cramping
  • Fever of 38 degrees C or higher

This is a highly infectious condition and can spread to others if the right precautions are not observed such as regular washing of hands.

What are the types?

Over-the-counter pain medications can be given to relieve the pain and fever.
  • Bacillary dysentery or shigellosis – triggered by the shigella bacteria and the most common form
  • Amoebic dysentery or amoebiasis – triggered by an amoeba specifically Entamoeba histolytica which is present in tropical areas

Management of dysentery

Since dysentery generally settles on its own after 3-7 days, treatment is not usually required. Nevertheless, it is vital to drink more fluids and provide oral rehydration solutions (ORS) if needed to avoid dehydration.

Over-the-counter pain medications can be given to relieve the pain and fever. Do not provide any anti-diarrheal medications since they can worsen the condition.

It is recommended to stay at home until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhea to minimize the risk of spreading it to others.

When to consult a doctor

It is not always required to consult a doctor for dysentery since it tends to settle within a week or so. Nevertheless, a doctor should be seen if the symptoms are severe or do not seem to improve after a few days.

In case the symptoms become severe or persistent, the doctor might prescribe a short course of antibiotics. If the individual has severe dysentery, treatment in a healthcare facility for a few days is required.

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