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Difference Between Dysentery and Diarrhea

digestive_health_bookDysentery vs Diarrhea
Dysentery and diarrhea are often used as similar terms. However, the fact is that the two conditions are clinically different from each other.

The most important difference between dysentery and diarrhea relates to the affected area. While watery diarrhea is a disease that affects the small bowel, dysentery affects the colon. Since the fluid flux in the small bowel is much more than that in the colon, an infection there produces diarrhea- a watery stool. The colon has much lesser fluid constituents, so an infection there will not result in a lot of watery stool.

The second difference between the two relates to the typical symptoms that are observed. Diarrhea is presented as watery stool that may or may not be accompanied by cramps or a pain. However, in case of dysentery, the person suffers from a mucoid stool that may be accompanied by blood. Dysentery is also accompanied by fever at times. The patient usually complains of cramps and pain in the lower abdominal area.

The symptoms that arise from dysentery and diarrhea are different because of a very interesting difference. The actual process of infection in the two is different. For this reason, the symptoms may be different. When an infection takes place in the small bowel and results in diarrhea, the infection is confined to the upper layers called the intestinal lumen. At the most, it is confined to the upper epithelial level.

There is no cell death in such a condition and the infection is only caused because of the release of some toxins by the infecting agent. The antimicrobial that are used to treat this infection do not eradicate the toxin left behind. They just kill the organisms in the gut lumen. The only danger from diarrhea is that of dehydration.

This is different in the case of dysentery. When a person gets dysentery, the upper epithelial cells are attacked and destroyed by the pathogen or disease causing agent. This attack may also lead to ulcerations on the colon. What’s more, the infections caused by these pathogens can lead to other complications also. The common systemic problems that may rise include bacterimia at different places in the body.

Treatment for dysentery can eradicate the pathogen that is causing the infection and stop the inflammation. It also stops cell death in the walls of the colon. For this reason, it is very important to secure treatment as soon as you can if a near one has symptoms of diarrhea.

It is also important to note that some people may have symptoms of diarrhea even when they actually have dysentery. The important things to watch out for are fever and cramping in the abdomen.


1. The typical symptom of diarrhea is watery stool. It is a dysentery if the stool is in the form of mucous, includes blood and the patient suffers from cramping and fever.
2. Diarrhea usually affects the smaller bowel while dysentery affects the colon.
3. The effects of diarrhea are not that serious, apart from a risk of dehydration. Dysentery can cause a lot of complications, if left untreated.

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  1. Hey, thanks for this post…

    Till now, I was assuming both are similar terms….thanks for clarifying it.


  2. “Treatment for dysentery can eradicate the pathogen that is causing the infection and stop the inflammation. It also stops cell death in the walls of the colon. For this reason, it is very important to secure treatment as soon as you can if a near one has symptoms of diarrhea.”

    Shouldn’t that last word be dysentery, NOT diarrhea?

  3. If you go to the E.R. for the first imewith liquid & a high % of blood, capture a sample since this never happened to you before, and was very frightening to see, notified your Primary & gastro Physicians A.S.A.P. within the 2 to 4 day direction b the E.R. attending, How long should you have to wat ffor a response from any of them? It has been a week +. The Gastro people did call back th following week ansaid,”we’ll get back to you when we receive th E.R. report. I have insurance. Is $ $ $ $ $ $ all that they really care about? IF so, don’t you think they would pay just alittle more attention to patient health concerns. I’m also gifted with Celiac Disease. Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

  4. Thank you so much difference between.net
    The info really helped me…
    I thought both are similar terms….
    You are Just Awesome…..


  5. Superb information from you !

  6. Thanks sir, you give a nice difference between diarrhoea and dysentry…


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