Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms

Amebic Dysentery Overview

What is amebic dysentery?
A person with amebic dysentery has an infection in the intestines that is caused by a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. This condition can be spread through food or water that is contaminated with stools. Amebic dysentery is most common in tropical areas but can be seen anywhere in the world. This illness normally lasts about 2 weeks, but if not treated is can reoccur. When amebic dysentery spreads beyond the intestines to other parts of the body (such as the liver, lung, or brain) it is referred to as extraintestinal amebiasis. Amebic dysentery infections are most severe in the very young, the elderly, and in those who may be taking daily corticosteroids.

What are the symptoms of amebic dysentery?
The symptoms of amebic dysentery usually develop 2 to 4 weeks following exposure to the parasite. The symptoms of amebic dysentery include malaise, generalized weakness, abdominal tenderness, abdominal pain, abdominal cramping, abdominal swelling, diarrhea (watery stools), excessive gas, fatigue, fever, vomiting, bloody stool, rectal pain, unintentional weight loss.

How does the doctor treat amebic dysentery?
Treatment for amebic dysentery may include oral antiparasitic medication for about 10 days depending upon the severity of the infection. The stool should be rechecked following the completion of the oral medication to make sure the infection is completely gone. Surgery may be needed to treat complications such as liver abscess, perforated bowel, and massive gastrointestinal bleeding.

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Last Updated: Feb 15, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Amebic Dysentery References
  1. Okamoto M, Kawabe T, Ohata K, Togo G, Hada T, Katamoto T, Tanno M, Matsumura M, Yamaji Y, Watabe H, Ikenoue T, Yoshida H, Omata M. Amebic colitis in asymptomatic subjects with positive fecal occult blood test results: clinical features different from symptomatic cases. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2005 [16282306]
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