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What is Dysentery?

What is Dysentery?

(by Roy Khoo, Guardian Pharmacist)

What is Dysentery?
Dysentery refers to the infection of the intestines caused by microorganisms, most commonly caused by bacteria. Dysentery is one of the common infections for travellers who have consumed contaminated food or water.

What are the sign and symptoms of dysentery?
Dysentery can lead to diarrhoea with blood, mucus or pus in the stools. Other symptoms include stomach pain or cramps, fever and feeling of incomplete defecation.

How is dysentery treated?
Mild cases of dysentery usually clear up on its own without any treatment. To avoid dehydration during the recovery period, oral rehydration therapy should be initiated. Over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol can be taken to treat the fever or pain. It is advisable not to take antidiarrheal medicine (such as loperamide or diphenoxylate/atropine) in dysentery to prevent worsening of symptoms. Severe cases of dysentery require doctors’ referral and are usually treated with antibiotics.

What are some of the prevention tips?
It is important to drink only canned water or bottled water. In addition, bring along water purification tablets, which can get rid of the microorganism that lead to dysentery in the drinking water. Besides, avoid roadside food and only consume fruits that need to be peeled.

As dysentery is highly contagious, good and strict hygiene practices should be observed as well. Wash your hands before you eat or handle any food products and after using the toilet. It is also advisable to avoid sharing personal items such as towels with an infected person.

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