How is dysentery treated?

Treatment for dysentery begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have dysentery, your health care provider may ask you to provide stool samples for laboratory testing.

Antibiotic therapy is the mainstay of treatment for dysentery due to bacterial organisms and is highly effective. It is important to follow your treatment plan for dysentery precisely and to take all of the antibiotics as instructed to avoid reinfection or recurrence.

Antibiotics for the treatment of dysentery

Antibiotic medications that are effective in the treatment of dysentery caused by bacterial organisms include:

  • Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra)

The most common treatment for amebic dysentery caused by Entamoeba histolytica is metronidazole (Flagyl), an antiparasitic medication.

If you have diarrhea and vomiting, fluid and electrolyte replenishment is also a component of successful treatment.

What you can do to improve dysentery

In addition to following your health care provider’s instructions and taking all medications as prescribed, you can speed your recovery by:

  • Ensuring adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water and electrolyte solutions
  • Getting plenty of rest

If you have dysentery, it is important to practice good hygiene to avoid spreading the infection to those who have close contact with you. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water after using the bathroom or touching any contaminated bedding or clothing. Avoid use of public pools, hot tubs, or other recreational water facilities until your infection has cleared.

What are the potential complications of dysentery?

You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care provider design specifically for you. Complications of dysentery include:

  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Intestinal perforation
  • Liver abscess
  • Postinfectious arthritis (joint pain, eye irritation, and painful urination)
  • Secondary urinary tract infection
  • Seizures
  • Spread of infection (sepsis, more common in immunocompromised individuals)


  1. Amebiasis. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
  2. Shigellosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Tierney LM Jr., Saint S, Whooley MA (Eds.) Current Essentials of Medicine (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.

What is dysentery?

Dysentery broadly refers to infectious gastrointestinal disorders characterized by inflammation of the intestines, chiefly the colon. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines dysentery as any episode of diarrhea in which blood is present in loose, watery stools.

Dysentery is spread among humans through... Read more about dysenteryintroduction


What are the symptoms of dysentery?

Dysentery causes irritation and inflammation of the intestines that may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of dysentery

The most common symptoms of dysentery are related to disturbances of the digestive system and include:


What causes dysentery?

The bacteria Shigella and E coli and the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica are the most common causes of dysentery. These organisms are present in the stool (feces) of infected people and animals. The Entamoeba histolytica may uneventfully reside in the colon, but if it attacks the colon wall, it can cause dysentery. People with weakened immune s... Read more about dysenterycauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System

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