Spotting Amoebic Dysentery Symptoms – Signs To Watch Out For

Amoebic dysentery (Amoebiasis) is an infection of the large intestine that is caused primarily by a single celled protozoan parasite (amoeba), Entamoeba histolytica. This infection is characterized by amoebic dysentery symptoms, which range from general weakness to stomach ache and severe diarrhea.

dysentery symptoms

Ingestion of contaminated water is one of the most common dysentery symptoms.

Over time, the infection worsens and patients usually pass stool that is laced with blood and mucus, with other complications like mild fever and abdominal pain. The infection is mainly acquired through the ingestion of food or water that’s contaminated with the causative organism. The disease presents itself as mild or often asymptomatic (without any symptoms) in a majority of the cases. If dysentery diagnosis and treatment are not done at the right time, the condition can turn life threatening and in about 20 % of the cases, it does.

Once the organism invades the intestine, amoebic dysentery symptoms appear after an incubation period of 7 to 28 days. This may vary from a few days to even months.

The Two Stages Of Amoebic Dysentery Symptoms

Mild Amoebic Dysentery Symptoms

Most affected individuals start experiencing certain mild amoebic dysentery symptoms during the early stages of the disease. It is important that these signs are noted immediately, so that you can consult a physician at the earliest possible instance.

The early symptoms of amoebiasis include:

  • Nausea
  • Loose stools
  • Stomach pain
  • Loose bowel movements with rectal pain
  • Stomach cramping
  • Lack of appetite
  • General weakness

Severe Amoebic Dysentery Symptoms

Blood and mucus (pus) stained feces is an indication of severe amoebic dysentery. This symptom is presented when the parasite multiplies enough to cause ulcers or localized lesions in the large intestine.

The organism may break through the intestinal wall, causing amoebic colitis (inflammation of the colon). Severe disease is associated with abdominal pain and massive diarrhea, with the constant loss of fluid inevitably leading to dehydration. Patient may need to relieve their bowels 10 – 20 times, and streaks of blood will be visibly present in such stool. Other symptoms at this stage include:

  • Fatigue
  • Excessive gas and abdominal bloating (flatulence)
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Foul smelling stool
  • Intermittent diarrhea and constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Abdominal swelling and tenderness
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Localized perforation
  • Appendicitis
symptoms of dysentery

Appendicitis is one of the symptoms of dysentery. It occurs in severe cases of the infection.

Extra Intestinal Amoebic Dysentery Symptoms

In rare cases, the causative organisms invade the blood and are carried to other organs of the body, leading to the formation of abscesses (swollen areas within body tissue, containing an accumulation of pus). Such abscesses mainly occur in the liver but may also extend to adjacent areas like the cardiac region. Brain abscesses and genitourinary diseases may also result due to complications.

Symptoms at this later phase include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Dry painful cough
  • Pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
  • Hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)
  • Jaundice

Amoebic dysentery symptoms are easy to miss during the early stages. For this reason, it’s doubly important to consult a physician immediately once the primary symptoms manifest.

Are You Prone To Amoebic Dysentery Symptoms?

Amoebic dysentery symptoms are commonly noted in certain regions, and there are many risk factors associated with the disease. People who can contract the disease are:

  • HIV/ AIDS patients
  • Post-transplant patients
  • Travelers who visit developing countries or tropical regions, where amoebic dysentery is prevalent
  • Mentally challenged individuals with poor personal hygiene
  • Underdeveloped or developing countries, where proper sanitary measures are inadequate
  • Heterosexuals/Homosexuals who practice anal intercourse
  • The use of corticosteroid medication
  • Malnutrition
  • Cancer
  • Alcoholism

The disease is communicable as long as the organism is excreted in the feces of infected individuals. Some chronic carriers often act as potential dysentery causes by excreting the organism for years without showing any clinical symptoms otherwise. Usually, it is amoebic dysentery symptoms that dictate how critical the case is and what form of amoebic dysentery treatment is ideal for that particular case.

Dysentery Prevention Techniques – Seven Tips That Can Help

Dysentery is a rarely fatal disease that’s caused by the ingestion of contaminated food items or water, and it can be prevented through good personal hygiene, safe drinking water, and the proper disposal of sewage. When it comes to dysentery prevention, the first and foremost factor that you should take into account is your personal hygiene.

dysentery prevention

Purifying water through boiling, filtration devices, or purification tablets is highly recommended as part of dysentery prevention.

Dysentery Prevention Tips And Techniques

Given below are seven simple and effective dysentery prevention tips.

  • Maintain Good Personal Hygiene

    Washing your hands regularly is a vital habit that will help you avoid many infections and diseases. Wash your hands thoroughly:

    Before

    • Preparing food
    • Eating

    After

    • Using toilets
    • Changing diapers for children
    • Looking after a dysentery patient
    • Handling pet animals
    • Gardening or touching soil
  • Always Drink Sterilized Water

    Ensure that the water you use while drinking, brushing your teeth, and washing vegetables and fruits is free from any dysentery causing germs. This can be achieved through proper water treatment, which is an important dysentery prevention technique.

    • Boil water to 100 °C at least for 1 min (ideally 10-15 minutes)
    • Never drink untreated tap water before cleansing it
    • Use water purifying tablets 15 minutes before drinking untreated water
    • Use filters that have a pore size of 1µ or smaller, or that have been specially designed for ‘Cyst Removal’
    • Use filtration devices such as Aqua Guard with UV or other Reverse Osmosis treatment facilities

    Once the water has been treated to remove any kind of dysentery causing germs (microorganisms), store it in a clean place and keep it well covered.

  • Practice Proper Sewage Disposal

    Dysentery causing organisms are spread through the feces of individuals who are infected. These microorganisms are excreted along with the feces and contaminate the soil and water, making them potential sources of infection.

    For this reason, it is important to properly dispose the feces without letting it mingle with other elements. Care should be taken to ensure that the sewage doesn’t contaminate surface or ground water, or any other water body that people use for consumption.

    Untreated sewage shouldn’t be used as fertilizers as this too can contaminate crops, fruits, and vegetables that reach humans and trigger an infection.

  • Practice Safe Sex

    Sexual intercourse that involves oral or anal contact can cause amoebic dysentery. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, as this can help you prevent an infection to some extent.

    It is ideal that you refrain from sexual activities that involve anal contact, as this will make dysentery prevention easier.

  • Eat Safe And Eat Right

    Your food habits can also cause amoebic dysentery. Following the below measures can help you avoid contracting the infection.

    • Wash fruits and vegetables with clean and safe water, before use
    • Avoid eating raw or undercooked food items
    • Avoid eating from street vendors
    • Choose ice creams or drinks made of safe water
    • Eat fruits that can be peeled off and include these in your diet
    • Never use unpasteurized milk or dairy products
prevention of dysentery

Avoid eating food from street vendors for the prevention of dysentery.

  • Take Precautions While Travelling

    When you travel to tropical countries with poor sanitary conditions, take extra care and follow these simple measures to keep dysentery symptoms at bay.

    • Drink only boiled water or bottled water
    • Do not eat or drink food items and beverages sold by street vendors
    • Don’t swim in contaminated water bodies or swimming pools
    • Avoid salads if you’re not sure about their quality
    • Always keep your doctor updated about your travel history for better diagnosis
  • Keep Your Community Safe

    It’s equally important to take responsibility for the good health of others around you too. You can do this by following some simple dysentery prevention measures.

    • If you’re a healthcare worker taking care of a dysentery patient, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap after tending to a patient
    • Child care employees should use gloves when changing diapers for children and should wash their hands after tending to every child
    • Never defecate near water bodies and ensure that your sewage system is well established
    • Don’t attend any public gatherings or report at work if you have dysentery, in order to minimize the chances of spreading infection

As there is no immunization that can protect patients against amoebic dysentery, it is important that you adopt dysentery prevention measures for preventing the disease – within your house and in your community. On occasion, dysentery causes manage to get past the prevention measures taken. In such cases, opting for timely amoebic dysentery treatment is recommended.

Dysentery Causes 101 – Why Amoebic Dysentery Is Caused

Dysentery can be either bacterial or amoebic, depending on the type of infection and the microorganism involved. When it comes to amoebic dysentery, the causes can be narrowed down to Entamoeba histolytica – a single-celled protozoan parasite that infects the large intestine, bringing about bloody diarrhea.

dysentery causes

Transfer of the dysentery parasite from an infected person to a normal one is one of the common dysentery causes.

This microorganism breeds in specific reservoirs and is spread through certain carriers.

  • Reservoirs

    Infected humans and people who carry the parasite asymptomatically are the only reservoirs.

  • Carriers

    Food or water that has been contaminated with the infection through the feces (stool) of infected individuals act as the carriers of this infection.
    The infection can also spread through oral or anal sexual contact and due to poor personal hygiene.

Dysentery Causes – The Role Of Fomites

Any object that acts as a vehicle for transmitting amoebic dysentery is called as a fomite. For example, when a person with dysentery touches the door handle without washing his hands after defecating, he can transfer the organism onto the door handle.

When a second healthy person touches the door handle and later uses his hands for eating, the organism enters his digestive system and infects the bowels.

Dysentery Causes – How The Amoeba Causes Dysentery

Entamoeba histolytica enters the body in two forms, and this can determine the extent of the infection.

  • Tropozoite (Free Amoeba)

    Active growing form that is readily killed by the digestive enzymes or the acidity of the stomach.

  • Cyst (Egg-Like Stage)

    Infectious form that comes with a protective covering, is resistant to adverse environmental conditions, and is excreted in the feces of affected individuals.

Amoebic dysentery is caused when the cyst form of the parasite is ingested. Once inside the human intestinal tract, it bypasses the adverse acidic condition of the stomach, enters a favorable environment, and resumes its growth, causing damage to the intestine.

In severe cases, the organism invades the intestinal wall causing dysentery and may also reach other organs through the blood stream causing extra-intestinal complications like liver damage.

Some of the tropozoites get excreted in feces, ready to infect a second person. These cysts survive for long periods (up to two months) in the environment and contaminate adjacent water bodies or cultivation, serving as potential sources of infection and acting as primary dysentery causes.

The cysts can also remain inactive in the intestine for years and trigger the disease when a person’s immunity is low, during pregnancy, old age, or when patients are affected by cancer, diabetes, alcoholism, or a HIV infection.

Dysentery Causes – Predisposing Factors

When it comes to dysentery causes, some factors that play a key role are:

  • Using untreated human waste as fertilizers
  • Untreated sewage getting to drinking water
  • Travelling to developing countries without adequate precautions
  • Eating contaminated fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking water without treating it beforehand
  • Poor sanitation and personal hygiene
  • Washing fruits or vegetables in contaminated water
  • Living in crowded areas like refugee camps

Amoebiasis occurs worldwide, but dysentery symptoms are quite a common problem in Africa, Mexico, certain parts of South America, and South East Asia (including India). They account for about 70,000 deaths annually worldwide, so learning about the dysentery causes and taking active measures for dysentery prevention can keep you on the safer side of the fence. In case you do do contract this infection, consult your doctor for a confirmation of dysentery diagnosis as well as timely amoebic dysentery treatment.

Amoebic Dysentery – An Introduction To The Condition

Amoebic Dysentery (Amoebiasis) is an infection of the large intestine caused primarily by a single celled protozoan parasite (amoeba) called Entamoeba histolytica. Dysentery symptoms include severe diarrhea, blood and mucus in the feces, mild fever, and stomach pain.

Amoebic dysentery accounts for 70,000 deaths occurring annually around the globe.

amoebic dysentery

The protozoan parasite called Entamoeba Histolytica causes amoebic dysentery.

How Does Amoebic Dysentery Spread?

The infection is acquired by the ingestion (swallowing) of food or water that has been contaminated by the feces of infected individuals who shed the organism (cyst or egg like stage of the parasite) in their feces.

Poor personal hygiene, unsafe drinking water, oral-anal sexual contact, and uncooked food items are the main factors that play a role in spreading the disease.

The Progression Of Amoebic Dysentery

Once the organism enters the human digestive tract, it takes 7–28 days to trigger visible clinical symptoms.

In a majority of the cases, the infection presents itself as a milder form with or without symptoms. But in 20% of the cases, it can cause severe invasive infection of the liver or other organs, causing complications that require serious medical attention.

Stool that is released from the bowel with streaks of blood is a characteristic feature of amoebic dysentery. Other symptoms include abdominal tenderness, stomach pain, nausea, excessive gas, fatigue, liver abscess, mild fever, an enlarged liver, and jaundice.

Massive diarrhea due to the disease also leads to dehydration. Immunocompromised (individuals with low immunity such as HIV patients, malnourished individuals, diabetics etc) face a greater risk of developing complications.

Identifying The Presence Of Amoebic Dysentery

Dysentery diagnosis involves the collection of at least 3 fresh stool samples over a period of 2-3 days. These samples are then sent to the laboratory for confirmation of the infection.

The appearance of ova (cyst) and parasitic forms of amoeba under microscopic examination is taken as the confirmation for amoebiasis. Alternately, doctors also check the blood for antibodies in order to confirm the diagnosis. Other measures like a CT scan, MRI scan, and colonoscopy aid in diagnosing the disease.

How Amoebic Dysentery Is Treated

Treatment is to be started only after consulting a doctor. Metronidazole or tinidazole is administered to patients who suffer from amoebic dysentery, followed by a 10 day course of diloxanide furoate.

Fluid and electrolyte replacement, either through ORS solutions or intravenous administration, should be taken care of in order to prevent dehydration. Liver abscess can be drained or aspirated to prevent its rupture.

Can Amoebic Dysentery Be Prevented?

Definitely! Proper dysentery prevention measures can help you avoid the onset of amoebic dysentery.

Washing your hands thoroughly after using toilets and before eating or preparing food, drinking sterilized (boiled) water, disposing your sewage properly, refraining from anal intercourse, and avoiding raw or uncooked foods from street vendors can help you prevent amoebic dysentery. If dysentery causes have already resulted in the infection, it is advisable to seek immediate amoebic dysentery treatment.

Amoebic Dysentery Treatment Options And How to Choose One

In uncomplicated and properly treated cases of amoebic dysentery, the mortality rate (death rate) is less than 1%. Once dysentery diagnosis is confirmed, there are two approaches for amoebic dysentery treatment:

  • Medication
  • Management
amoebic dysentery treatment

Apart from medication, amoebic dysentery treatment includes other measures like administering an ORS solution.

During amoebic dysentery treatment, drugs should be consumed only after consulting a physician and in case of complications, the infected individual should be hospitalized. Extra care should be taken if the affected person is a child (under 2 years of age), or is an immunocompromised, malnourished, or pregnant adult.

The Two Main Amoebic Dysentery Treatment Measures

Amoebic Dysentery Treatment Through Medications

Two rounds of medication should be provided during amoebic dysentery treatment.

  1. First Round Of Drugs

    Antibiotics like metronidazole (first choice) and tinidazole are commonly used to kill the parasites, and these are the drugs of choice for dysentery as well as invasive (hepatic) amoebiasis. Two 400mg tablets should be taken three times a day, for five days. Pregnant or breast feeding women are not advised to opt for such medication.

  2. Second Round Of Drugs

    The first line of drugs should be followed by a 10-day course of diloxanide furoate, as this will help eliminate the parasite from the intestine.

Amoebic Dysentery Treatment For Asymptomatic Patients

In some amoebic dysentery cases, the primary dysentery symptoms lay hidden in individuals who unknowingly act as carriers of this disease. Such patients who don’t exhibit blatant symptoms are treated through a separate procedure.

Diloxanide furoate is the drug of choice for people who show no clinical symptoms. This is mainly because metronidazole or tinidazole are relatively not effective in such cases.

Pain killers and muscle relaxants can be used for relieving abdominal or stomach pain. Loperamide medication can be taken to slow the bowel and prevent dehydration. The consumption of alcohol should be strictly avoided during treatment.

Amoebic Dysentery Treatment – Managing The Condition

As amoebic dysentery causes the rapid loss of water, leading to dehydration, replacing the lost bodily fluids is a critical step that will help manage the condition. The following tips are recommended for proper management.

  • Commercially available ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts) solution sachets supplied by the World Health Organization/UNICEF/CDC provide a simple and effective way to prevent dehydration
  • Drinking rice water three times a day can relieve diarrhea and remove the parasite from the body
  • Probiotics are also helpful in countering this condition
  • Drink lots of soft drinks, juices, and bottled water
  • Stick to a balanced diet and avoid milk products
  • Get adequate bed rest
  • In severe cases of dehydration, intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement measures will be useful
  • While travelling to a tropical country, it is advisable to carry a self-antibiotic treatment regimen of metronidazole (with the doctor’s prescription)
  • Gastric suction or blood transfusion may be required in rare cases
  • Liver abscess can be aspirated, in complicated cases, to prevent its rupture
Doctors recommend a balanced diet as part of amebiasis treatment.

Doctors recommend a balanced diet as part of amebiasis treatment.

With proper medication, the bowel will heal completely. The liver abscesses may disappear within 8 months to 2 years. Recurrence is very common in amoebiasis and therefore stool samples should be tested regularly after antibiotic amoebic dysentery treatment to ensure that the parasite has been completely eliminated from the intestine. In any case, dysentery prevention should always be given top priority.

Making the Right Dysentery Diagnosis – A Look At What’s Involved

Amoebiasis or amoebic dysentery is an intestinal disorder that results in dysentery symptoms like excessive diarrhea, with blood and/or mucus in the feces. The infected individual may also have an enlarged liver or tenderness in the abdomen. Dysentery diagnosis can be made correctly by collecting the patient’s medical history, monitoring his clinical symptoms, and conducting physical and laboratory tests on him to identify the dysentery causes correctly.

dysentery diagnosis

An MRI scan is conducted as part of dysentery diagnosis, to check if the patient has hepatic amebiasis.

Dysentery Diagnosis – The Samples Required For Testing

Usually stool samples and (occasionally) blood samples are collected from the patient for diagnosis. As the number of organisms present in the feces may vary, it is necessary to collect at least 3 stool samples over a period of ten days for an exact diagnosis.

Also, as the trophozoites present in the feces may be killed by water or drying, it is important to collect fresh or concentrated stool samples for proper dysentery diagnosis.

Dysentery Diagnosis – The Kind Of Tests To Expect

Microscopic Examination Of Stool Sample

Microscopic examination is done for detecting cysts and trophozoites (two different forms of amoeba) in the feces. This test also displays white blood cells (WBCs) and pus cells.

Blood Testing For Antibody Detection

The presence of an antibody in the sample indicates a case of invasive (hepatic) amebiasis and confirms the existence of amoebic dysentery in the patient.

Sigmoidoscopy And Colonoscopy

A thin light instrument is inserted into the rectum and colon to collect the tissue required for laboratory tests.

Ultrasound, CT Scan, MRI scan

Conducting an ultrasound test helps detect if the dysentery has caused any complications involving abdominal organs. The CT scan and MRI scan are useful for diagnosing hepatic amebiasis.

Blood Cell Count, ESR, Liver Function Tests

If the Liver Function Tests conducted on the patient reveal leucocytosis, raised ESR, and other abnormalities, it is a definite sign of amoebic dysentery. Increased levels of alkaline phosphatases and transaminases indicate a case of hepatic amebiasis.

Molecular Diagnosis By PCR

Stool samples, live tissues (through biopsy), and aspirates from abscesses are used to detect the organism that is causing dysentery in the patient, using PCR or polymerase chain reaction.

Dysentery Diagnosis – Tests Recommended By WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends specific stool tests to diagnose amoebic dysentery, such as:

  • Culturing of E histolytica from stool samples
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
  • Antigen detection

As there are various types of dysentery, and each type is caused by a different micro organism and has specific forms of treatment, it becomes necessary to ensure that amoebic dysentery is not confused with any of the other dysentery variants.

This is why laboratory tests play an important role in dysentery diagnosis, because they help ensure that the patient is treated for the right type of dysentery. This dangerous infection must be countered with timely amoebic dysentery treatment, as it can worsen quite quickly and the patient’s condition can turn critical if the condition is ignored. Of course, taking dysentery prevention measures beforehand can help avoid this infection altogether!