Dysentery Patient, Burma Hospital, Siam Art.IWMART1541787.jpg
A person with dysentery in a Burmese hospital, 1943
SpecialtyInfectious disease
SymptomsBloody diarrhea,[1] abdominal pain, fever
CausesUsually Shigella or Entamoeba histolytica[1]

Dysentery is an inflammatory disease of the intestine, especially of the colon, which always results in severe diarrhea and abdominal pains.[1][2][3] Other symptoms may include fever and a feeling of incomplete defecation. The disease is caused by several types of infectious pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Signs and symptoms

The most common form of dysentery is bacillary dysentery, which is typically a mild sickness, causing symptoms normally consisting of mild gut pains and frequent passage of stool or diarrhea. Symptoms normally present themselves after 1-3 days, and are usually no longer present after a week. The frequency of urges to defecate, the large volume of liquid feces ejected, and the presence of blood, mucus or pus depends on the pathogen causing the disease. Temporary lactose intolerance can occur, as well. In some caustic occasions severe abdominal cramps, fever, shock and delirium can all be symptoms.[3][4][5][6]

In extreme cases, dysentery patients may pass more than one liter of fluid per hour. More often, individuals will complain of intense abdominal pains and severe diarrhea with blood or mucus, accompanied by rectal pain and low-grade fever. Rapid weight loss and generalized muscle aches sometimes also accompany dysentery, while nausea and vomiting are rare. On rare occasions, the amoebic parasite will invade the body through the bloodstream and spread beyond the intestines. In such cases, it may more seriously infect other organs such as the brain, lungs, and most commonly the liver.[7]