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What Are the Different Types of Shigellosis Treatment?

By Alex Terris
Updated May 17, 2024
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In mild cases, shigellosis treatment focuses on preventing dehydration by replacing the fluids and salts lost to diarrhea. This can usually be achieved using oral fluids, but it may require an intravenous line if there is a danger of complications stemming from the dehydration. If the illness is severe, or if the patient is in an already weakened state, then antibiotics may be prescribed. These can speed recovery but shouldn’t be used in mild cases, because such unnecessary use can cause the development of super bacteria — infections that are resistant to antibiotics. Examples of antibiotics that can be used in shigellosis treatment include norfloxacin and furazolidone.

Shigellosis is a potentially severe form of intestinal infection. It is caused by a type of bacteria known as Shigella, which produces toxic substances in the intestine. These substances cause the surrounding tissue to swell and can result in ulcers. Symptoms include diarrhea, blood in the stool, pain in the abdomen and a fever. Shigellosis is highly contagious and can infect humans through water supplies, food and coming into contact with infected stool.

The first stage in shigellosis treatment is usually to replace the fluids lost to diarrhea. When a person has severe diarrhea for an extended period of time, dehydration is a real concern and can be life threatening. In the case of shigellosis treatment, fluids and other important substances can usually be replaced by drinking water or by taking oral pills. If, however, a person with severe shigellosis is at risk because of dehydration, then he or she may require an intravenous drip.

In some cases, shigellosis treatment requires a course of antibiotics. Certain types of antibiotics, such as co-trimoxazole, can kill the infection and reduce the time it takes for the illness to pass. Antibiotics are usually only given to very old or young people or in case in which the infection is particularly severe. If it is thought that there is a high risk of a patient passing the infection to others, then this also may be a reason to prescribe antibiotics.

Without antibiotics the infection usually takes up to eight days to clear. In severe cases, however, the illness has been known to continue for more than a month. This time is greatly reduced with a full course of antibiotics. There are certain drugs that shouldn’t be used during shigellosis treatment. These include antidiarrheal drugs, which are thought to increase recovery time from shigellosis.

Along with antibiotics to treat the actual infection, treatment usually involves medicine to lower any shigellosis-related fever. Anti-diarrheal medicines and antimotility medicines should be avoided. This is because these medicines can actually hold the infection in the body longer, increasing the overall infection period, even if they temporarily reduce the symptoms.

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