Dysentery is an infection affecting the intestines that results to diarrhea that contains mucus or blood. Other indications include nausea or vomiting, abdominal cramping and fever of 38 degrees C or higher.
Most individuals with dysentery only have mild symptoms. In such cases, it is not needed to consult a doctor since it settles within a week or so. If the symptoms are severe or does not settle after a few days, a doctor should be consulted.
How is dysentery managed
Treatment is not usually required since it settles on its own. Nevertheless, it is vital to encourage the individual to drink more fluids and use oral rehydration solutions if needed to avoid dehydration.
Over-the-counter pain medications such as paracetamol can be used to reduce the pain and fever. Avoid using anti-diarrheal medications such as loperamide since they can worsen the condition.
An individual with dysentery should stay home at least 48 hours after the last episode to minimize the risk of spreading the infection to others.
In case the symptoms are persistent or severe, the doctor might prescribe a brief course of antibiotics. In severe cases, hospitalization is required for a few days.
What are the causes?
There are 2 main forms of dysentery that you should be familiar with:
- Bacillary or shigellosis – triggered by the shigella bacteria
- Amoebic or amoebiasis – brought about by an amoeba called Entamoeba histolytica
Both types are considered highly infectious and can spread if proper hygienic measures were not observed such as washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet.
The risk for acquiring dysentery can be minimized with good hygiene. The following measures can help:
- Wash hands regularly using warm water and soap after using the toilet
- Do not share towels
- Wash hands before eating and handling or cooking food
- Clothes and bedding of an infected individual should be washed using the hottest setting possible.
Always bear in mind that proper handwashing is vital in preventing the spread of infection to others. An individual is considered infectious while sick with the symptoms present.