What Is Amoebic DysenteryHealth A-Z | January 3, 2010
Amoebic dysentery or amoebiasis is a medical condition wherein the intestine also known as the gut is infected by an amoeba. This amoeba is known as Entamoeba Histolytica that can result in rigorous diarrhea with blood.
An amoeba is a type of parasite that lives in impure or unhygienic food and drinks including water. When such contaminated food or drink is taken through the mouth, amoebae also enter in our body. These parasites then moves further through our blood to the digestive system and make the intestine its home that results in infection of the gut.
There are several varied types of amoebae. Among these species, Entamoeba Histolytica is one of the most risky ones that are found primarily in tropical regions. Entamoeba histolytica reaches the intestine and has the potential to tunnel through its wall. These parasites spread in the body with the medium of the blood and infect organs such as the lungs, bran, and the liver. Entamoeba histolytica can dwell in two different forms in the impure food and drink:
- Free amoebae termed as trophozoites
- Infective cysts that are a collection of amoebae enclosed in a protective wall and been released in the infected person’s or animal’s faeces
Generally, free amoebae (trophozoites) expire in the abdomen itself due to the presence of the acidic content. So, even if these parasites enter in your body through contaminated food or drink, there is hardly any chance of anything unusual or unwanted condition to occur.
On the other hand, the acidic content of the stomach does not have any effect on the cysts, but on the contrary, they instigate high probability of infection in the gut and other vital organs of the body. This is because as they do not die as compared to the free amoebae, the individual amoebae come out of the cyst upon reaching the intestine and start affecting the intestine itself causing infection.
What Spreads Amoebic Dysentery
Amoebic dysentery is a disease that is transmitted from one infected person to the other uninfected one through sloppy or negligent hygiene. An example of such carelessness includes eating contaminated food or drinking impure water without heating it properly.
The most common way of spreading this disease is through washing the vegetables and other indiegrients of salad with the impure water.
Amoebic Dysentery Symptoms
Until months or years, you might not experience any symptoms of amoebic dysentery even though you might be infected. This means that the infection is not apparent for a long period of time. However, if the stool is tested of these people, the presence of cyst confirms amoebic dysentery. But, this test does not form a part of regular health check ups, so they continue to excrete cysts and as a result, infect other people in their surroundings.
Upon reaching the intestine, the cysts attack the intestine and harm the walls of the large intestine that result in ulcers succeeded by bleeding. This is indicated through mild symptoms, which are listed below.
- Colic stomach cramps
- Painful passage of stools (tenesmus)
- Bloody diarrhea having a foul smell
- Listed below are the milder chronic symptoms caused by amoebic dysentery.
- Loose stools frequently
- Stomach pain
- Sporadic constipation
- Diarrhea along with swelling in the abdomen
However, there are also chances of the amoebae bursting through the wall of the gut and its lining (peritoneum) leading to peritonitis – an inflammation of peritoneum. This of course, marks the sign of drastic change in the progress of the disease and further complication.
The amoebae have the potential to form massive amount of cysts in the other organs of the body such as the liver and lungs over a long period. This is only detected on assessing the presence of other medical conditions such as unobvious weight loss or sickness.
If you notice any of the symptoms, especially, bloody diarrhea, contact your doctor as soon as possible and visit him/her for the treatment. Inform the doctor of any incident of traveling to the tropical regions. This is because amoebic dysentery usually does not take place in non-tropical areas such as the UK.
If you live in a tropical region, the presence of bloody diarrhea usually indicates either amoebic dysentery or shigellosis that is bacillary dysentery with fever due to bacterial infection. It is important to note this because bloody diarrhea is a symptom of many other diseases too. Further, amoebic dysentery does not lead to fever or a seriously incapacitated situation. This is one more parameter based on which one can draw a line of demarcation between the amoebic dysentery and bacterial infection. In bacterial infection, bloody diarrhea occurs along with the fever.
The diagnosis of amoebic dysentery is done through the examination of stools wherein the presence of excreted cysts leads to the positive result.
Medical Treatment Of Amoebic Dysentery
Listed below are the treatments of amoebic dysentery.
- Metronidazole (requires prescription, i.e. Flagyl tablets) or Tinadazole (Fasigyn)
- Hospitalization in case of damage of the intestinal wall or the prevalence of abscesses in the organs of the body
- Metronidazole – two tablets of 400 mg dose to be taken three times daily for five days continuously in emergency if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding and are in a poor situation such that there is no medical help you can obtain
- Avoid alcohol during the treatment
- Discuss with the doctor about the treatment and its effect to ensure that you are on the right track if you are taking the medication on your own without anybody’s advise
You might face difficulties when there is no effect of the medicine on some of the parasites and then the required medication such as Paromoycin or diloxanide furoate to tackle the symptoms are unavailable.
In the U.K., the General Practitioners are not permitted to offer NHS prescriptions to the travelers. Therefore, if you are aware before time that you would be traveling to tropical areas where any doctor or hospital is not readily available, request your doctor to provide you with a private prescription beforehand. This means that the full cost of the drug needs to be given.
Precautions to Avoid Cure – Help Yourself!
The ideal way to stay away from amoebic dysentery is to ensure that anything you eat or drink is made pure without contamination. This done by washing the items with clean water or cooking thoroughly on the gas to kill any germs.
The first step is to make sure that the drinking and cooking water is sterilized properly. You can do so in the different ways as listed below.
- Boiling it for 15 minutes at a high altitude, then quickly cooling it, and keeping it covered
- Adding water-purifying medicines and leaving it for 15 minutes at its minimum prior to usage
- Using a filtration device such as Aquapure Traveller that consists of ceramic and iodine filters
However, chemical techniques of purification never ensure 100 percent devastation of all destructive organisms.
There are two more tips for you given below.
- Avoid salads, unpeeled fruit, and ice cream.
- Avoid ice cubes in drinks, as they water from which they are made might be contaminated. If you are seriously 100 percent sure of sterilization, then go ahead and have them.
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