Dysentery

Dysentery infection GI

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of Dysentery

Gastroenterological diseases are deadly and affect mainly the tropical and subtropical zones of the world. The scenario is particularly grave in India and its neighbors. Estimates and statistics have shown that as many as 15 million Indians suffer from Diarrhoea and Dysentery in a period of 15 days (source:  Dysentery has also become one of the major contributing factors of infant mortality rates. Nearly 5000 Indian children die daily due to dysentery and a large number due to diarrhea. Incidences of blood dysentery are more serious and are taking many more lives on a daily basis. All these cases are partly contributed by different pathogens and partly by the lifestyle and hygiene habits of the patients. The World Health Organisation is organizing campaigns all over the world in order to spread the awareness related to hygiene and sanitary habits in order to minimize the occurrence of the life-threatening gastroenterological diseases.

 

What is dysentery?

Dysentery painA dysentery is a form of gastroenteritis that is characterized by frequent and uncontrolled bowel movements. It is mostly marked by a few symptoms of Diarrhoea. But in this case, the patients may experience watery stools along with blood. Dysentery mostly results from the inflammation of the inner linings (mucosal linings) of the digestive tract. The main parts of the digestive tract that are affected by the disease are the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine. Associated symptoms like fever, abdominal pain and a feeling of bowel fullness even after defecation may be present. The complications are often precipitated by disease-causing pathogens and certain environmental factors. In either case, the mortalities and the morbidities are quite high.

 

What causes dysentery?

Dysentery is caused by a number of pathological, clinical and environmental factors. These are listed below-

  • Bacteria: Bacteria invading the body via contaminated food or water may cause dysentery. The main bacterial agents responsible for dysentery are- Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E.coli. They are usually found in certain food items like ground beef or sliced fruits (left exposed to open air for a long time).
  • Virus: Certain viral agents may contribute to dysentery and associated gastrointestinal disorders. The most common pathogen of this category is the Rotavirus, that causes self-limiting infections, which resolve within 3-7 days. Some other viral pathogens are- Cytomegalovirus, Herpes Simplex virus, and Norovirus.
  • Parasites: Certain parasitic pathogens can invade the gastrointestinal linings through the consumption of contaminated food and drinks. The most common ones are- Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba. 
  • Bowel disorders: Dysentery and other gastrointestinal diseases may be common in people who have some chronic bowel disorders. These are more prevalent in people having inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disorders or tumors in the intestinal tract.
  • Intestinal diseases: The patients of some acute intestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative colitis are more likely to develop diarrhea or dysentery, or in some cases, both.
  • Food intolerance: Many people, especially the aged ones have intolerance toward certain food categories like lactose, gluten etc. These people basically lack the metabolic capacity to digest these food items and develop bowel incontinence on consuming those foods.
  • Medications: Long-term use of certain broad-spectrum drugs like antacids (containing magnesium), antibiotics or other cancerous drugs can predispose the body to diarrhea and dysentery.
  • Congenital problems: Suboptimal breastfeeding or presence of infection within the mother’s body can cause dysentery in infants through placental connection or breast milk.
  • Nutrition: Malnutrition caused by the deficiency of certain micronutrients (Vitamin A, zinc, magnesium etc) may lead to dysentery.
  • Hygiene and sanitation: Maladaptive hygiene habits such as having food without washing hands, inadequate cleaning of utensils or items of daily use may cause infections and digestive problems.

 

What are the symptoms of dysentery?

Dysentery infection GIDysentery may be mistaken for diarrhea or other bowel diseases due to the closeness of the symptoms. Following are the identifiable symptoms of dysentery-

  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Need to defecate right after a bowel movement
  • Pain and cramps in the stomach while passing stool
  • Passage of watery stool more than 5-6 times a day
  • Feeling of bowel / rectal fullness even after defecation (rectal tenesmus)
  • Foul smell from stool and mucus
  • Trace to moderate amount of blood in stool and mucus
  • A slippery feeling in the anal region after the bowel movement
  • Acute dehydration (due to loss of water and minerals from the body)
  • Tenderness and discomfort in the lower abdomen

 

What are the different types of dysentery?

According to the cause of origin, dysentery can be classified into the following types-

  • Amoebic dysentery: As the name implies, it is caused by an amoeba named Entamoeba histolytica. This disease is more common in the tropics and the subtropics. These microbes can lie in a dormant state within the host’s body for years in the form of cysts. The cysts normally enter the host’s body through the mouth and gradually travel down the stomach. After reaching the intestine, the cyst ruptures and releases the amoeba. This causes inflammation and infection of the intestinal linings. Ulcers and abscesses are often formed in this condition.
  • Bacillary dysentery: It is triggered by the infection due to a bacterium belonging to the Shigella family. It is also known as Marlow’s syndrome. This disease can also be caused by enteroinvasive E.coli.

 

Which diagnostic tests can detect if someone has dysentery?

The doctors usually recommend the following diagnostic tests to detect the occurrence of dysentery-

  • Stool culture
  • Mucus culture
  • Blood test (to determine the level of salt and minerals in the body)

 

How do you treat dysentery? Can it be prevented?

For bacterial infections, Lactobacillus tablets can restore normal bowel functions. Amoebicidal drugs such as metronidazole, paromomycin or iodoquinol can cure amoebic dysentery. People abstaining from over-the-counter drugs can resort to oral rehydration therapy to restore the body fluids. In some cases of emergency hospitalization, the patients undergo intravenous fluid replacement.

The global health organizations have shown that the middle and low-income countries generally show higher incidence rates of dysentery. So clearly, a major improvement in the health and hygiene habits in these countries is necessary in order to curb epidemic outbreaks of dysentery and other similar diseases.

If it is mild dysentery then it can be treated by taking proper rest and drinking plenty of fluids. You can also take over the counter medication like bismuth subsalicylate for relieving diarrhea and cramps. In severe cases of dysentery, antibiotics are given as part of treatment.

You can prevent dysentery by following good sanitation practices like:

  • Do not swallow water while swimming.
  • Wash hands at a  frequent basis.
  • Do not eat foods and beverages sold by street vendors when visiting a location where dysentery is a common problem.
  • Avoid drinks which are not sealed or bottled.
  • Do not eat peeled fruits sold by street vendors.
  • Ensure that the food you eat is thoroughly cooked.

 

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Do properly wash your hands to stop the spread of the infection.
  • Wash dirty bedding, clothes, and towels in hot water.
  • Clean toilet bowls and seats with hot water and detergent after use.
Don'ts
  • Prepare food for anyone till you are symptom-free for about 48 hours.
  • Attend school or work within 48 hours of the onset of the symptoms.
  • Drink boiled and filtered water, especially when traveling.

 

 

 

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Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
The Shepherd's diet
Facts about the Shepherd’s diet Kristina Wilds promoted Shepherd's diet, a Christian-based diet that highlights Jesus Christ's diet as mentioned in the Bible.
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
stress adverse effects
Fight, flight, or freeze: 8 ways stress can ruin your body Did you know that stress is in-built in our systems? It helped our ancestors respond to danger. How…
Ezekiel Bread: How to make the “world’s healthiest bread” in your own kitchen Learn more about Ezekiel bread - a bread belonging to the biblical time and containing the secrets to…
antichlamydia antibody Igm
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody IgM Anti-Chlamydia antibody IgM an automated ELISA-based blood examination evaluates and measures IgM antibodies against Chlamydia infection.
buckwheat in a jar
Buckwheat: Instant health benefits of adding this super healthy grain in your diet  Buckwheat is a type of plant product in the form of a grain which is used to make…
The dangers of having insufficient digestive enzymes (and how to pump these naturally) Digestive enzymes are compounds in your GI tract that help you digest food properly and also in the…
Rick Simpson’s Oil: The truths and controversies of this cannabis product Rick Simpson's Oil is an extract from the much-controversial plant, Cannabis. What is the actual truth behind the…
Strep throat pain
Tonsillectomy: When do you actually need to get your tonsil glands removed? Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of tonsil glands. Why does one need to undergo this surgery and what…
Ear infections check up
Troubled with ear infections? Find easy and instant home remedies here Ear infections are common in both children and adults and may lead to hearing loss if left untreated.…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
cytomegalovirus iGG
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)- IgG Test The cytomegalovirus IgG is the immunoglobulin protein produced by our immune system when the body is infected by…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
Turner syndrome and infertility
Infertility profile (women) The infertility profile tests in women are conducted to form a complete picture of the hormonal balance and…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
working mom with kids
Practical Motherhood Tips for Working Women Check out these effective tips for working mothers to manage motherhood and work life. Raise your children easily…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Miracle extract from the root of maca: 10 ways it can help you! Maca root has been used for years in herbal medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing fresh evidence in…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
diagnosis of lipoma
Lipoma Click to know all about lipoma, its causes, types, risks, diagnosis , and treatment of this non-cancerous tumor
diagnosis of lipoma
Lipoma Click to know all about lipoma, its causes, types, risks, diagnosis , and treatment of this non-cancerous tumor
Hydrocele
Hydrocele Hydroceles occur when fluids accumulate in the male scrotum. They may not be a major health problem but…
CHIKUNGUNYA IgM
Chikungunya-IgM Test Chikungunya-IgM is a blood test that is used to check the elevated levels of the IgM antibodies associated…
Tattoo Aftercare: The best practices to follow once you get inked Planning getting permanently inked? Make sure you follow these critical tattoo aftercare techniques to avoid infectious agents attacking…
beta alanine energy powder
Beta-alanine: A powerhouse of proteins to charge up your workout How can a simple amino acid be a crucial health supplement for champion athletes? Find out how you…
The most effective tips on how to stay awake at work Do you often find yourself snoozing off at your work desk? This might be a sign of sleep…
The most effective tips on how to stay awake at work Do you often find yourself snoozing off at your work desk? This might be a sign of sleep…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.

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