Patient Awareness

What is dysentery? Learn its causes & symptoms

dysentery causes
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Dysentery is our body’s response to unwanted foreign bodies in the digestive system. The possible causes of dysentery include a parasitic amoeba called Entamoeba histolytica or a number of bacteria, including shigella and salmonella. An infection of E. histolytica is called amebiasis, and any resultant bloody diarrhea is called amebic dysentery. Infections of shigella bacteria can lead to bacillary dysentery and they are called shigellosis which contribute a major part to the list of dysentery causes. 


Normally, it is a condition that is more widespread in tropical areas where the warm climate is favourable to the production of bacteria. This does not mean that it will not occur elsewhere. However, the combination of poor civic hygiene and tropical weather is a combination that will definitely support the the circle of dysentery causes. 

It is therefore of the utmost importance to consume food that is properly cleaned prior to cooking and then thoroughly cooked. Water should also be boiled thoroughly and/or passed through a water decontamination system before being consumed as it ranks on top of the list of dysentery causes. 

 Those suffering from the condition need to practice extra concern to ensure that dysentery causing bacteria are not re-introduced into their system. In such a situation, a relapse will almost certainly lead to worse symptoms in the patient as their body will be weakened by the initial illness.


The symptoms can last five to seven days or for an even longer. The course of the illness varies with individuals, as do the symptoms. Some people suffering with dysentery may have only mild symptoms, while others may have severe diarrhea which can occur with or without vomiting that can end up posing a risk of dehydration. Fortunately, dysentery can be treated with antibiotics and anti-parasitic medications.

Untreated dysentery can lead up to severe dehydration. Severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can result in shock or coma and may be life-threatening. Seek immediate medical care from a professional if you have symptoms of severe dehydration such as lethargy, loss of consciousness, confusion, cold skin, or decreased urine output. Seek timely medical care if you develop diarrhea and vomiting and believe you may have been exposed to contaminated water or food.

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