Regular observance of hygiene such as washing the hands after using the toilet, before handling, cooking and eating food, before handling babies, and feeding young or elderly people according to experts could reduce the occurrence of dysentery and other related diseases.
When people fail to maintain the hygiene practices mentioned above they could be at risk of been infected with dysentery, and likely find themselves in hospitalized if the ailment is taken lightly and not well treated. In an interview with Sunday Mirror, Dr. Chinedu Durugo, a medical practitioner with the Good Shepherd medical center, Ikeja Lagos defined Dysentery as diarrhea or bowel movements (stools) that are loose and watery which contains blood. He added that symptoms may include fever, abdominal pain and rectal tenesmus i.e. a feeling of incomplete defecation.
“Dysentery can be caused by a variety of infections, and it is classified as a gastroenteritis disease. The mechanism is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon. The most common form of dysentery is bacillary dysentery which is typically a mild illness, characterized by symptoms such as mild stomach pains and frequent passage of stool or diarrhea. These symptoms normally come up after one to three days and usually cease after a week. The frequency of urge to defecate, the large volume of liquid feaces passed, and the presence of mucus, pus and blood depends on the pathogen that is causing the disease. In some caustic occasion, symptoms like severe abdominal pain, fever, shock, and delirium can be present. “In extreme cases, dysentery patients may pass over one litre of fluid per hour.
More often, individuals will complain of nausea, abdominal pain, and frequent watery and usually foul-smelling diarrhea, accompanied by mucus and blood, rectal pain, and fever. Vomiting, rapid weight-loss, and generalized muscle aches sometimes also accompany dysentery. On rare occasions, the amoebic parasite will invade the body through the bloodstream and spread beyond the intestines. In such cases, it may seriously infect other organs such as the brain, lungs, and the liver”, he revealed. The medic further revealed that dysentery also results from viral infections, bacterial infections, or parasitic infestations, adding that pathogens typically reach the large intestine after entering orally, through ingestion of contaminated food or water, oral contact with contaminated objects on hands among others.
“Each specific pathogen has its own mechanism or pathogenesis, which may eventually result in damage to the intestinal lining, leading to the inflammatory immune response. This can cause elevated temperature, painful spasms of the intestinal muscles (cramping), swelling due to water leaking from capillaries of the intestine (edema), and further tissue damage by the body’s immune cells and the chemicals, called cytokines, that are released to fight the infection. The presence of these pathogenesis can also result to impaired nutrient absorption, excessive water and mineral loss through the stools due to breakdown of the control mechanisms in the intestinal tissue that normally remove water from the stools and in severe cases the entry of pathogenic organisms into the bloodstream”, he stated.
Durugo said microorganisms, such as bacteria of the genus Shigella in the bloodstream secrete substances known as cytotoxins, which kill and damage intestinal tissue on contact. He added 5that these viruses directly attack the intestinal cells, taking over their metabolic machinery to make copies of themselves and attack the cells. “If shigella is suspected and it is not too severe, letwating it run its course may be reasonable usually less than a week. But if the shigella is severe, antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin or TMP-SMX may be useful. However, many strains of shigella are becoming resistant to common antibiotics, and effective medications are often in short supply in developing countries. If necessary, a doctor may have to reserve antibiotics for those at highest risk for death, including young children, people over 50, and anyone suffering from dehydration or malnutrition”, he said. He recommended washing of hands after using the toilet, after having contact with an infected person, and if possible regularly throughout the day.
People need to wash their hands before handling, cooking and eating food; they need to also wash their hands before handling babies, feeding young or elderly people. We must also ensure we wash our hands when we have contact with someone known to have dysentery to a minimum. It is advisable to wash laundry on the hottest setting possible and avoiding sharing items such as towels and face cloths with others. If w observe all these, we can prevent been infected with the disease. Durugo revealed that Dysentery can be treated or managed by maintaining fluids and by using Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT).
“If treatment through intake of fluids and ORT cannot be adequately maintained due to vomiting or the profuseness of diarrhea, hospital admission may be required for intravenous fluid replacement. In ideal situations, no antimicrobial therapy should be administered until microbiological microscopy and culture studies have established the specific infection involved. When laboratory services are not available, it may be necessary to administer a combination of drugs, including an amoebicidal drug, to kill the parasite and an antibiotic to treat any associated bacterial infection”, he submitted.