What is dysentery?
Dysentery is a severe infectious disease, which is usually caused by Shigella bacillus or a parasite, called Entamoeba histolytica. It is an inflammatory disease of the intestines, primarily affecting the colon.
The disease is characterised by mild or severe abdominal cramps or pain accompanied by severe diarrhoea, that may have blood or mucus in the stool. Other than these dysentery may accompany symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever and dehydration, that may prove fatal if not addressed on time.
Dysentery is usually spread in the areas of poor sanitation and unhealthy practices. It may be spread by an infected person, if he does not wash his hands properly after going to toilet. It may also spread by consuming food and water that has been contaminated by mixing infected faecal matter.
Types of dysentery
- Amoebic dysentery- It is caused by a single celled parasite, called as Entamoeba histolytica. It is more common in tropical areas, with poor sanitation.
- Bacterial dysentery- It can be caused by bacterias like Shigella, Campylobacter, Salmonella or enterohemorrhagic E.coli. Diarrhoea caused by shigella is known as shigellosis. It is the most common type of dysentery.
Causesand risk factors
Both the types of dysenteries are caused due to poor sanitation and unhygienic practices. The infection can easily spread by coming in contact with the faeces of the infected person. The contact can be made through-
- Contaminated drinking water and other beverages
- Contaminated food
- No proper hand washing after going to toilet
- Swimming in lakes and ponds, that have contaminated water.
- Physical contact with the infected person
Anyone can get dysentery, but children are more at risk for catching infection. Shigellosis is known to easily spread in the areas where people live in close contact with each other, like-
- Day care centres
- Nursing homes, etc
Sign and symptoms
Sign and symptoms of dysentery usually takes about 1 to 3 days to appear, from the day the person get exposed to infection. Though, it usually depends on the susceptibility and immunity of the person, in how many days he starts to show the symptoms.
Sign and symptoms of each type of dysentery is slightly different from each other.
Bacillary dysentery may cause symptoms like-
- Diarrhoea with cramping pain in stomach
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood or mucus in the stool
Amoebic dysentery usually do not cause any symptoms. If the symptoms do appear, they may take about 2 to 4 weeks after being exposed to the infection to show up. The symptoms may include-
- Abdominal cramps
- Weight loss
Amoebic dysentery may rarely cause a serious complication like liver abscess in the liver. If it does cause abscess, it may present with symptoms like-
- Pain in right upper part of abdomen
- Weight loss
- Swelling in liver
Dysentery does not cause too many complications, but they can be severe in nature. Some of the complications may be-
- Liver abscess
- Haemolytic uremic syndrome- This may cause anaemia, low platelet countand kidney failure
- Some have also experienced seizures after infection
The doctor will carefully take the medical history of the patient. He may carry out some physical examinations to confirm the diagnosis. To know the microorganism responsible for the symptoms, doctor may send the stool sample for laboratory findings.
In the case of severe symptoms, patient may be suggested to go for imaging tests like, ultrasound and endoscopy.
Homeopathy is the best choice of treatment for any type of dysentery. Homeopathic medicines effectively decrease the frequency of diarrhoea in minimum time and can save a patient from going into dehydration.
Homeopathic medicines also control the accessory symptoms of dysentery like nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps rapidly and efficiently.