Amoebic Dysentery (Amoebiasis): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Amoebiasis is also known amoebic dysentery. It is an infection caused by Entamoeba histolytica. People affected with the parasite may even develop anaemia due to loss of blood.

Amoebiasis can be acute amoebiasis which occurs with diarrhoea or dysentery with frequent and stools with blood. Chronic amoebiasis is another type, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms along with weight loss, tiredness, and fever. Extraintestinal amoebiasis can happen if the parasite spreads to the liver, causing amoebic liver abscess which can cause fever and stomach ache.

Amoebiasis is present all over the world. About 480 million people are infected with amoebiasis and this results in the death of between 40,000–110,000 people per year.

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How does Amoebiasis affect your body?

Cysts of Entamoeba survive for up to a month in soil or for up to 45 minutes under fingernails. Invasion of the intestinal lining by parasite results in bloody diarrhea. If the parasite reaches the bloodstream it can spread through the body and can affect liver, kidney and in severe cases even brain. It most frequently end up in the liver where it can cause amoebic liver abscesses. Also liver abscesses can occur without previous diarrhea.

What are the causes of Amoebiasis?

Amoebic dysentery is caused by a protozoan parasite in the intestine, Entamoeba histolytica. Usually houseflies are the mechanical carriers of the parasite, transmitted from faeces of infected person to food and food products.

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What are the risk factors of Amoebiasis?

  • People who live in developing countries that have poor sanitary conditions are at higher risk of amoebiasis.
  • Men who have sex with men are at risk and can get sick from the infection, but they often do not have symptoms.
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What are the symptoms of Amoebiasis?

The symptoms often are quite mild including:

  • Loose stools.
  • Stomach pain and cramps.
  • Bloody stools
  • Fever
  • Liver abscess.
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How is Amoebiasis diagnosed?

Amoebiasis is diagnosed by reviewing the symptoms.

Stool test– after examining, the parasite can be detected by a microscopic examination of freshly passed stool.

Sigmoidoscopy– This procedure involves usage of a lighted, flexible tube to look inside the lower part of the colon (large intestine).

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How to prevent & control Amoebiasis?

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap for at least 10 seconds after using the toilet or changing a baby’s diaper, and before handling food.
  • Clean bathrooms and toilets, especially toilet seats and taps often.
  • Avoid sharing towels or other personal items.
  • When in endemic areas, avoid raw vegetables, as they may have been fertilized using human feces.
  • Boil water or treat with iodine tablets before use.
  • Avoid eating street foods especially in public places.
  • Proper hygiene and sanitation as well as sewage disposal or treatment, are necessary for the prevention of infection on an endemic level.
  • Cysts of amoeba are usually resistant to chlorination, therefore sedimentation and filtration of water supplies are necessary.

Treatment of Amoebiasis- Allopathic Treatment

Metronidazole– This is prescribed for uncomplicated cases of amoebic dysentery. It is a 10-day course of treatment.

Other medications– Diloxanide furoate, dehydroemetine, emetine, or paromomycin may also be prescribed.

An anti-diarrhoeal medication– This medicine is prescribed for diarrhea due to amoebiasis.

Treatment of Amoebiasis- Homeopathic Treatment

  • Aconite– This is recommended if suffering from a fever, restlessness, bloody stools, and reddish brown, hot urine associated with the onset of amoebiasis.
  • Baptisia– Baptisia is ideal for the elderly who are suffering from amoebiasis, having symptoms including a yellow-brown coating on the tongue, a low-grade fever and watery stools.
  • Arsenicum album– This is used to treat dysentery associated with bloody stools that are particularly odorous, blackish-brown stools, the experience of excessive thirst brought on by dehydration, and overall weakness.
  • Lachesis– This treatment is for amoebiasis that is associated with anal constriction, burning during bowel movements and the passage of dark brown stools.
  • Sulphur– This is used to treat chronic amoebiasis associated with watery, bloody stools.

Amoebiasis- Lifestyle Tips

  • Avoid raw vegetables and fruits. Wash fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating.
  • Boil water before drinking, especially when in area where amoebiasis is common.
  • When travelling to endemic areas, be careful and ask your doctor regarding any medication.
  • Stay away from polluted areas as the parasite can be transmitted form infected faecal matter.

What are recommended exercise for person with Amoebiasis?

No specific exercise is recommended for people with amoebiasis.

Amoebiasis & pregnancy- Things to know

  • Pregnant women having amoebiasis usually have an increased risk of preterm delivery as compared to those who had no ameba infection.
  • Metronidazole is the preferred medication for amoebiasis in pregnant women.
  • Avoid drinking any alcoholic beverage while on this drug as they cause vomiting when in the same body.

Common complications related to Amoebiasis

Inflammation and ulceration of the colon with tissue death or perforation, which may result in peritonitis is the complication associated with amoebiasis.


Question: How soon does symptoms appear after exposure?

Answer: Symptoms may appear a few days to a few months after exposure, usually within 2 to 4 weeks.

Question: For how long can an infected person carry the parasite?

Answer: Some people may carry the parasite for weeks to years, often without symptoms.

Question: Should an infected person be excluded from work or school?

Answer: No;usual contact at work or school is unlikely to transmit the disease.

Question: How can I protect myself from amebiasis?

Answer: Proper hand washing before eating or preparing food and refrain from oral-anal sexual contact until effectively treated.

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