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Dysentery: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Home Remedies

By Isha Kukde +2 more

Dysentery is an inflammation that occurs in your intestines and this can lead to severe stomach pain and diarrhoea. This can last up to 3 to 7 days some of its common symptoms include nauseated feeling, vomiting, high fever above 100 degrees and dehydration. Dysentery is usually caused due to poor hygiene and the ultimate result could result in death due to dehydration.

dysentery symptoms

This infection is very contagious and can be spread use of utensils, food or even by using the bathroom. One way that you can prevent this disease from spreading is by washing your hands properly after you use the toilet. This disease is so contagious that it can also be spread to animals. If this is left untreated, then be sure that it will lead to dehydration and followed by imbalances such as shock and a state of coma.

If you have a high fever and diarrhoea, then make it a point to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Currently, most fevers are abnormal, meaning, some antibiotics do not cure deadly fevers. This is because the antibiotic has adapted to the harmful bacteria. This is called antibiotic resistance. Before we get into the treatment and different home remedies that can help cure dysentery, let’s understand what is this disease and how deadly can it be if it left untreated.

Did You Know?

  • Dysentery is a major public health concern in developing countries, causing significant mortality and morbidity in children under five years. [source: NCBI]
  • Shigella, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Schistosoma mansoni and Entamoeba histolytica are common causes of dysentery in children. [source: NCBI]
  • Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Shigella species are a global concern and may require treatment with ceftriaxone or azithromycin. [source: NCBI]
  • Rehydration is essential in the management of dysentery, especially in children, to prevent dehydration and complications. [source: NCBI]

Facts About Dysentery:

Here are some facts about dysentery and how deadly it can turn out to be if left untreated.

  • Dysentery is an infection that affects the intestinal tract
  • The first sign of dysentery is stomach cramps and diarrhoea
  • If left untreated, it can be life-threatening
  • One easy way of treating dysentery is by drinking a lot of water (stay hydrated)

Symptoms of Dysentry can become aggravated if the infection is not controlled in the initial phase. A rational antibiotic regimen after visiting the physician is of utmost importance to halt the progression of the disease.

Dr. Nikhil Yadav MBBS MD, CCEBDM

What is Dysentery?

Dysentery is an infection in your intestines that causes blood and mucus while passing stools. The bacteria that cause dysentery is Shigella and Entamoeba (parasite). The first sign of dysentery is passing 3 to 8 liquid or soft abnormal stools a day. As the disease progresses, you may develop severe pain in your abdomen and pass more than 100 stools a day.

The fever may be unbearable and it can be 100 degrees and above. If a child above or below the age of five is affected with dysentery, then it may not be affected with a high fever. If a clinical treatment does not work, then you need to take serious medical help. One simple way by which you can prevent dysentery is by washing your hands and following a hygienic lifestyle.

For individuals suffering from dysentery, it is vital to adhere to the precautions recommended by your doctor and maintain good hydration. It is imperative to take medication as prescribed and avoid self-medication. If symptoms persist or worsen, follow up with your doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

Dr. Arpit Verma MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)

Types of Dysentery:

There are two types of dysentery such as amoebic dysentery and bacillary dysentery. Each has its own effects on an individual. Here are some of the types of dysentery along with their effects.

1. Amoebic Dysentery:

Amoebic dysentery is usually caused by consuming intoxicated food or water and the symptoms can be very painful. However, hers how you’ll feel when you have amoebic dysentery.

  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood painful stools along with mucus
  • Fatigue

2. Bacillary Dysentery:

Bacillary dysentery can be very dangerous and it can appear with a day or 3, once a person is infected. The first sign of bacillary dysentery is diarrhoea. Here are some of the symptoms of bacillary dysentery.

  • Blood while passing motion
  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • High fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

Note: Sometimes the symptoms of bacillary dysentery are so mild that it can be treated at home itself.

Causes of Dysentery:

Dysentery is usually caused by bacterial infections such as Shigella, E.Coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella. These are various harmful bacteria that is found in your intestines and can spread quickly from within. These bacterias differ from country to country. For example, Shigellosis is the bacteria that affects Latin Americans mostly and this is common in Latin America.

On the contrary, Campylobacter is the that bacteria causes dysentery among most Southeast Asian countries including India. However, some of the rarest causes of dysentery are intestinal worms and chemical irritants. Now you may wonder if you have sexual contact with an infected person, will you be affected? Well, the answer is yes! Dysentery can spread by having anal sex with an infected person. Here is a list of causes of dysentery that you need to watch out for.

Symptoms of Dysentery:

You can identify dysentery by various signs that help distinguish the disease. However, the symptoms differ from mild to severe. This disease is caused by the unhygienic quality of sanitation and infected areas such as your home, office or any public place. Usually, dysentery has a high rate of effect on developing countries and third world countries.

The symptoms of dysentery can be both mild and deadly, but early treatment can help reduce the pain and get you back functioning normally. Here some of the most common signs that you may have dysentery.

  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • High fever that’s 100 degrees and above
  • Severe abdominal pain even if touched gently
  • Stomach Bloating
  • A desperate feeling of constantly passing stools
  • Weight loss; and
  • A severe headache

Note: There are other risky symptoms that an infected person can face when he/she hasn’t taken medical treatment. These symptoms include increased gas, high fever and abdominal cramps and may last up to 4 to 8 days. Severe cases of this disease may last for 6 to 8 weeks and this time would be unbearable for the patient. Sometimes a person can take just 3 days for a patient to heal and the patient will recover within a week.

Diagnosing Dysentery:

If you or your child is suffering from dysentery, then you’ll need to consult a doctor at the earliest. If left untreated you may end up getting dehydrated and this may be a major risk to your health. Usually, when you go for a consultation, your doctor will first review your symptoms and if he/she suspects dysentery, then a sample of your stool will be analysed. Identifying dysentery is usually done by analysing the stool of the infected person.

Treatment of Dysentery:

People suffering from mild shigellosis are usually treated with plenty of liquids. On the contrary, people suffering from severe shigellosis is usually treated with antibiotics, but there are times when the bacteria get used to the antibiotic therefore causing antibiotic resistance. If you have been prescribed antibiotics and that your symptoms have not reduced even after 6 days, then you need to consult your doctor and get a blood test done immediately.

Amoebic Dysentery is usually treated with drugs such as metronidazole and tinidazole that are made to kill parasites. If your condition is severe, your doctor may recommend intravenous drips to substitute fluid food intake. This will prevent dehydration.

Also Read: Worst Foods For Diarrhoea: A Comprehensive Guide To Consume Wisely

Home Remedies for Treating Dysentery:

The primary cause of dysentery is poor hygiene. Dysentery can be contagious in such a way that it can spread by a single touch. This happens when a normal person gets in contact with an infected person. So, how do you prevent this deadly disease from affecting your family members? Here is a list of simple home remedies that will protect you and your family from this dreadful disease.

  • Add rock salt to buttermilk and consume
  • Drink at least two glasses of fresh orange juice a day
  • Make a milkshake with pomegranate skin and consume
  • Drink lemon juice
  • Eat a lot of bananas. This will help in soft and norm stools
  • Mix milk, honey and lemon together and consume
  • Drink black tea
  • Wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitisers, especially after using the toilet. Make sure hand sanitisers are not used in excess.
  • Drink mineral water or boil water for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Also, make sure what food you are consuming is well cooked

Complications Caused by Dysentery:

If dysentery is left untreated, then it may cause further complications and this can turn out to be fatal. You need to keep in mind that this is a contagious disease and it easily spreads even by touch. Well, you need to watch out for this disease as it can cause life-threatening complications. Here are some of the diseases that dysentery can cause.

  • Dehydration: When dehydration happens, you may develop vomiting, diarrhoea and if this is the case in children below 5 years of age, it can be very life-threatening.
  • Postinfectious Arthritis: Dysentery can cause postinfectious arthritis and the pain that accompanies this disease can be unbearable especially in your joints.
  • Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome: The shigella bacteria that are responsible for the cause of dysentery can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome. Here, the bacteria can block red blood cells from entering your kidneys. This can cause anaemia, kidney failure or reduction in platelet count. The infected person can face seizures even after treatment. This is the extreme symptom of dysentery.


Dysentery is a contagious disease that can spread from person to animal and it must not be avoided. However, many people opt for self-medication and as a result, they do not understand the fact that they are complicating the problem. Unless it gets worst, you will know how devastating the pain can be.

Moreover, many people believe that this can be treated with self-medication. But, self-medication has its drawbacks and in terms of a disease like this, be sure that you may end up getting your disease to the next level. Here are some frequently asked questions that will shed some more light on the concept of dysentery.

What foods to eat if you have dysentery?

Certain foods can stabilise dysentery from spreading. To get well soon, you need to consume soft and easy-to-digest foods like watery dal, curd, apples, bananas and lemonade. Consume foods like this and get dysentery under control. Followed by this, you can talk to your doctor and he/she will suggest what’s right for you.

When do you need a doctor?

Dysentery can be deadly and contagious if left untreated. So, make it a point to avoid self-medication in case you have a fever that isn’t decreasing. If you believe that you can cure the disease your suffering from through self-medication, then this may either kill you or benefit you. Keep in mind that life comes once and any damage caused to the human can leave a scar or even kill you.

The milder symptoms of dysentery can appear to be similar to that of fever. But you need to understand that the fever that affects humans today are dangerous. So, consult your doctor about your health and stay healthy. Before you enter into a health problem it is time that you learn to prevent the problem from affecting you.

Diet for Dysentery Patients

As dysentery is a stomach ailment caused by bacterial infection, patients suffering from the same should follow a proper and well-regulated diet as provided by the physician. What to eat and what to avoid should be kept in mind until the patient has fully recovered. It is best to eat home-cooked food. Here is a list of things that can be eaten during dysentery and things that are to be avoided.

Foods that can be eaten:

  • Potatoes (skin peeled)
  • Fruits like apple and banana
  • Boiled rice
  • Brown bread with jam or honey (butter or margarine should be avoided)
  • Plain salad
  • Boiled vegetables
  • Yoghurt
  • Fruit juices of oranges or pomegranate
  • Plain biscuits
  • Green tea and clear soup.

Foods to be avoided:

  • Avoid dairy products like whole fat milk, heavy cream, cheese, butter and ice cream.
  • Spicy food items, deep-fried food or oily and greasy dishes can trigger bowel irritation and slower recovery.
  • Processed food items made from refined flour like pasta and pizza, high sugar content foods like cakes, pastries, scones and doughnuts cause dysentery symptoms to worsen.
  • Citrus fruits and fruits with high fibre content are known to increase the effects of dysentery.
  • Red meat and raw vegetables may aggravate symptoms of dysentery.
  • Alcoholic beverages, high caffeine content drinks like strong coffee, milk tea and caffeinated drinks like colas and sodas flowers your recovery process.
  • Nuts, multigrain bread and cereals; vegetables like beans, broccoli, peas, cabbage and cauliflower may heighten and aggravate dysentery symptoms. 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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