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Difference between Diarrhea and Dysentery

Diseases and disorders commonly happen to people. COVID-19 has become a deadly disease in the present scenario.

People are dying in large numbers. But fortunately, vaccinations are helping the nation in overcoming this fatal disease. There are some diseases that have a cure, while there are some diseases that do not have any cure. Diseases like tuberculosis, cancer, etc., do not have a proper cure. These diseases can relapse at any moment. Today, we will discuss about two significant types of diseases, i.e., diarrhea and dysentery, their symptoms, and their cure. There are certain differences between them, but let us first begin with the definitions.

Difference between Diarrhea and Dysentery


Diarrhea is defined as a disorder in which the body experiences watery bowel movements. These bowel movements are also called as stools, wherein the body waste is passed through the anus and rectum. The material that is left over after the absorption of nutrients and fluids is called stool. Now, how is diarrhea caused? Well, diarrhea is caused by an increased secretion of fluids into the intestine. When the secretion increases, the absorption is reduced, leading to excessive passing of stool from the body. One of the major symptoms of diarrhea includes abdominal pain (cramps). Other causes of this disease depend upon the food we eat and the drinks we intake in our bodies. Alcohol abuse, diabetes, laxative abuse, radiation therapy, surgery in the digestive system, etc., are other causes of diarrhea. It is interesting to note that diarrhea is self-treatable. One can undertake a BRAT diet to overcome this disease. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. All these are bland foods, and they help in hardening the stool. The stool becomes bulky, and therefore one might overcome this disease.

In worst-case scenarios, medication is required to treat the patient. Apart from abdominal pain, other symptoms of diarrhea include nausea, bloating, fever, dehydration, and bloody stools. Now, you must be wondering as to how one can prevent them from having diarrhea? Well, there are some points that we have to keep in mind to avoid having diarrhea. We must clean and wash the cooking area more often, serving food immediately after it is prepared, keeping the leftover food in the refrigerator, etc. Cleanliness must be practiced to avoid any disease, not just diarrhea. Diseases mainly occur because of infections caused by eating the wrong food or touching contaminated surfaces. Thus, it is essential to keep the areas clean so that no disease can be generated.


Dysentery is defined as a fatal disease that is caused by an infection in the intestines. This infection is caused by bacteria or a parasite. Dysentery is a rare disease, and it can only be treated through medical equipment. Dysentery is often caused by the Shigella bacteria/ amoeba. Dysentery is spread in the system by contaminated food or water. One of the major symptoms of dysentery includes bloody bacteria (abdominal pain, malaise, fever, etc.). If anybody is suffering from dysentery, then they require immediate medical treatment. The prominent causes of dysentery include contaminated food & water, inadequate hand washing, swimming in contaminated ponds and lakes, etc. This disease can last up to 7-10 days. In order to overcome this disease, drinking plenty of fluids is necessary. Since it is caused due to bloody diarrhea, it is essential to overcome dehydration. Therefore, one must practice oral rehydration in order to overcome dysentery. In case of high fever (common symptom), painkillers like paracetamol, monocef, nice, dolo, etc., are useful. Now, there are certain differences between diarrhea and dysentery. So, let us have a look at them.

1. Diarrhea is defined as a disease wherein the body experiences water bowel movements. On the other hand, dysentery is defined as a disease caused due to infection in the intestines.
2. Alcohol abuse, laxative abuse, radiation therapy, etc., are some of the causes of diarrhea. Intake of contaminated food & water, poor hand washing, swimming in contaminated lakes, etc., are some of the causes of dysentery.
3. Diarrhea can last up to two weeks. Dysentery can last for 7-10 days.
4. Diarrhea is a common disease. Dysentery is a rare disease.
5. Diarrhea is self-treatable. Dysentery is a fatal disease and might require medical treatment.
6. Keeping the cooking areas clean is a prominent way to overcome diarrhea. Drinking plenty of fluids is a common way to overcome dysentery.
7. Symptoms of diarrhea include nausea, cramps, fever, dehydration, etc. Symptoms of dysentery include abdominal pain, malaise, weight loss, flatulence, etc.
8. Diarrhea affects the bowel. Dysentery affects the colon.
9. The intestinal lumen is targeted in diarrhea. The upper epithelial cells and colon ulceration is targeted in dysentery.
10. No cell death occurs in diarrhea. The infection in the body is majorly caused by the release of toxins. Cell death is caused due to pathogens in dysentery.
11. Diarrhea occurs due to a viral infection. Dysentery is caused due to bacterial infection.
12. Fever rarely occurs in diarrhea. Fever is common in dysentery.
13. Apart from dehydration, no fatal symptoms are seen in diarrhea. A lot of complications are seen in dysentery.
14. Severe symptoms of diarrhea include:
  • Weight loss
  • Dark urine
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Headache
  • Dry skin
  • Irritability
Severe symptoms of dysentery include:
  • Delirium
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
15. The nutritional area of the body is not harmed. There are harmful effects of dysentery on nutritional areas.
16. Diarrhea is not a fatal disease. However, the deaths are majorly caused due to dehydration. Dysentery accounts for 25% of deaths due to bloody diarrhea.
17. Diarrhea can be treated at home. The home remedies include drinking ORS. Dysentery can also be treated at home. The home remedies include amoebicidal drugs, drinking ORS, etc.
18. In worst cases, diarrhea can be cured by oral rehydration solutions. In worst cases, dysentery can be cured by intravenous antibiotics.
19. If diarrhea is not treated, the immune system works against the infection. The individual can be treated within 2-3 days of infection. Dysentery could be fatal if not treated.
20. In order to overcome diarrhea, one must take certain measures. They are:
  • Liquid diet
  • Avoiding high-risk food
  • Drinking clean water
  • Rehydration solution
In order to overcome dysentery, the measures taken are:
  • Intravenous fluid

So, these are some of the contrasting points between diarrhea and dysentery. One must take care of themselves if they encounter such a deadly disease. Diarrhea is not that fatal, but dysentery is. Thus, eating the right amount of food and drinking plenty of fluids is extremely important. Both diarrhea and dysentery have one common cause, i.e., they are caused due to dehydration. Thus, it is essential to remain hydrated in order to avoid these diseases.

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