Amoebic Dysentery Infection

A single celled organism, amoeba, a protozoan parasite, causes amoebic dysentery, which is also called amebiasis. This parasite, namely E.histolytica’s cyst, enters the patient’s stomach through infected food and water, found generally in unhygienic places. It attacks the stomach lining giving rise to amoebic dysentery.

 

The symptoms of the mild version of the disease are; stomach aches, loss of appetite, and mild diarrhoea. In the severe version, the symptoms include fatigue, abscesses, etc. Some of the home remedies for this are; the consumption of buttermilk, coconut water, apple cider vinegar with oregano, etc. To prevent amoebic dysentery, you should improve your hygiene and avoid eating and drinking from unhygienic places.

 

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Symptoms Of Amoebiasis

According to studies, about 90% of amebiasis patients are asymptomatic, though this conception might be the very reason for it becoming possibly severe as people tend to often dismiss it. Amoebiasis symptoms usually appear 1 to 4 weeks after the cyst ingestion. Generally, symptoms at the stage where you fall ill due to the disease tend to be mild which includes stomach cramping and loose stools.

Mild amoebiasis symptoms include:

  • Mild diarrhoea
  • Stomach aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

However, on the account of leaving the infection untreated for extended periods of time could cause mild symptoms to develop into severe ones.

The severe amoebiasis symptoms  include:

  • Severe illness
  • Fatigue
  • Abscesses    

In case the parasite happens to enter the lining of your intestine, it can cause amebic dysentery, which is a more dangerous form of amebiasis.

Apart from this, the parasite frequently invades the liver and the symptoms of amebic liver disease are tenderness in the upper-right part of your abdomen and fever.


Causes of Amoebiasis

E.histolytica is said to be the primary cause of amoebiasis and amoebic dysentery. This single-cell protozoan is capable of entering the body through a variety of means, the most common of which is through food and water, where the cysts are present in what they consume. Additionally, it is also possible for it to enter into one’s body if one comes in direct contact with faecal matter.

Generally, the possibility of contracting amoebiasis increases for those travelling to locations with low levels of hygiene places that are tropical in nature, and especially if the traveller is from a first world country with high sanitation levels, and is currently in a location where the hygiene standards don’t match.

Another cause of contracting amoebiasis, while less likely, is coming into contact with medical devices or equipment that could have been contaminated, such as a colonic irrigation device.

● Infection in men

Generally, the risk of infection for men and women is one and the same as far as amebiasis is concerned. However, the impact it has can vary. More specifically, the infection rate of men with invasive amoebiasis is much more common in adult men than in women. Additionally, liver abscesses caused by the infection are seen in men 7-12 times more than in women. Finally, men are generally more susceptible to contracting invasive amoebiasis given their higher propensity to develop asymptomatic infections, which can result in a lack of timely medical intervention.

● Infection in Women

According to a study conducted that analysed females with genital amoebiasis, about 37% of patients were diagnosed with pain in the abdomen, about 8.1% displayed signs of ulcerative lesions and just about 2.8% were observed to go through weight loss.

● Infection in Babies

While the concern surrounding amoebiasis in adults is limited unless and until the patient develops severe symptoms, the infection in a baby can be more worrisome. However, it is worth noting that due to the sanitary conditions children spend their lives in, it is uncommon for children under the age of five to contract amoebiasis and even more so as far as amoebic dysentery is concerned. If children are displaying symptoms, however, they are often treated at home or with standard medication. However, if a child is displaying signs of more severe symptoms such as extensive vomiting, then a doctor should be consulted.

Ways of Transmission

The most common causes of transmission include an individual consuming food/water that has the parasite present in it. This is often coupled with the aforementioned increased likelihood of contracting the disease if you are travelling to a location of low hygiene. In scenarios like this, you are likely to consume food and water from sources you are not familiar with or trust too much. In this case, the possibility of transmission could increase if you are consuming water or food from a public source such as a common canteen or water fountain that is touched by multiple people, multiple times a day. However, it is possible for the infection to be transmitted between individuals as well. This happens most commonly through the fecal-oral route.

Diagnosis Of Amoebic Dysentery

One instance that might cause your doctor to suspect the presence of amebiasis or amoebic dysentery is your recent travel history. Individuals are likely to contract amoebiasis if they travel to locations with low levels of hygiene. Your doctor might then test for E. histolytica, and in some instances run lab tests to determine if there is damage to the liver. Furthermore, doctors might also choose to test for lesions on the liver or cysts via a CT scan or ultrasound.

Treatment of Amoebic Dysentery

In most cases, you are likely to visit your local doctor, or general physician if you suspect that you have contracted amoebic dysentery; and in most mild cases, this visit would suffice to diagnose and treat your condition. In some cases, however, more specialised medical personnel might be required.  A gastroenterologist, or more colloquially known as a “G.I doctor” specializes in problems through the digestive system. Additionally, in some cases, an infectious disease specialist might be required.

Given that most cases of amoebiasis present little to no symptoms, upon diagnosis, the treatment generally consists of a 10-day course of Flagyl in capsule form. In severe cases, if the peritoneal tissue or colon has developed perforations, surgery might have to be considered as an option. If this is a case, a general surgeon might also need to be consulted.

Amoebic Dysentery -  Home Remedies

There are a number of home remedies available for amoebiasis that you can try if you are diagnosed with or even suspect amoebiasis.

Some recommend the following:

  • Consumption of buttermilk
  • Consumption of coconut water
  • Intake of tea infused with garlic and black tea.
  • Apple cider vinegar and oregano are also recommended home remedies for amoebiasis

Prevention of Amoebiasis

Given that amoebiasis and amoebic dysentery are generally prevalent in areas of low sanitation and hygiene, focusing on general sanitation practices such as using hand sanitizer and routinely washing your hands are the best means of prevention.

Reducing alcohol consumption is also said to reduce the chances of contracting amoebiasis.  Additionally, you could take an extra precautionary step to reduce your chances further, by ensuring you do not consume food or water from sources you are not familiar with.

Put simply, there is a direct inverse relationship between hygiene levels and the possibility of contracting amoebiasis. If your hygiene levels increase, the likelihood of you contracting the disease reduces. If your hygiene drops, the opposite happens.

To Sum up

Amoebiasis and amoebic dysentery are common occurrences in areas of low hygiene. However, skipping vital hygiene routines could significantly increase the chances of contracting amoebiasis, even in otherwise sanitary conditions. While a majority of individuals diagnosed with amoebiasis are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, it is essential to visit a doctor if you begin noticing even mild symptoms.  While there are steps that you can take to reduce the chances of contracting the disease, one cannot guarantee prevention. In the event that you do contract amoebiasis (or any other disease/illness for that matter), one must have the resources to be able to get the treatment they require. Hence, it is advisable to purchase health insurance  to avoid financial strain in case of medical emergencies.

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