Related Terms

  • Diarrhea
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Infectious Colitis
  • Traveler's Diarrhea

Differential Diagnoses

  • Amebas
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses


  • Gastroenterologist
  • Infectious Disease Internist

Comorbid Conditions

  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • Immune system disorders
  • Infections with other infectious parasites

Factors Influencing Duration

Length of disability may be influenced by the severity of the disease at diagnosis, the degree of dehydration at the initiation of treatment, whether or not causative organisms can be easily identified and symptoms treated, the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment, the presence of complications, immunosuppression, and the age of the individual (disability will last longer in the very young and the very old).

Medical Codes

004 - Shigellosis; Includes Bacillary Dysentery
006.0 - Amebic Dysentery, Acute, without Mention of Abscess; Acute Amebiasis
007 - Protozoal Intestinal Diseases, Other; Includes Protozoal Colitis, Protozoal Diarrhea, Protozoal Dysentery
007.9 - Protozoal Intestinal Disease, Unspecified; Flagellate Diarrhea; Protozoal Dysentery NOS
009 - Ill-defined Intestinal Infections


History: Those exposed may experience mild, severe, or no symptoms at all. The upper extreme is noted in cholera patients, who may eliminate over a quart of fluid an hour. More often, individuals complain of abdominal pain, nausea, frequent watery (often foul-smelling) diarrhea accompanied by blood and mucus, fever, and rectal pain. Vomiting, generalized muscle aches, and rapid weight loss can also accompany dysentery. Rarely, the amebic parasite will invade the body beyond the intestines and spread through the bloodstream, more seriously infecting other organs such as the liver, lungs, and brain.

Physical exam: The skin, mouth, and lips may appear dry due to dehydration. Lower abdominal tenderness may be present.

Tests: Cultures of stool samples are examined to identify the organism causing dysentery. Often several samples must be obtained because the number of amoeba changes from day to day. Blood tests are used to measure abnormalities in the levels of essential minerals and salts (electrolytes).

Source: Medical Disability Advisor

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