Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Shigella infection usually runs its course in five to seven days. Replacing lost fluids from diarrhea may be all the treatment you need, particularly if your general health is good and your shigella infection is mild.

Avoid drugs intended to treat diarrhea, such as loperamide (Imodium) and diphenoxylate with atropine (Lomotil), because they can make your condition worse.

Antibiotics

For severe shigella infection, antibiotics may shorten the duration of the illness. However, some shigella bacteria have become drug resistant. So it's better not to take antibiotics unless your shigella infection is severe.

Antibiotics may also be necessary for infants, older adults and people who have HIV infection, as well as in situations where there's high risk of spreading the disease.

Fluid and salt replacement

For generally healthy adults, drinking water may be enough to counteract the dehydrating effects of diarrhea.

Children may benefit from an oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte, available in drugstores. Many pharmacies carry their own brands.

Children and adults who are severely dehydrated need treatment in a hospital emergency room, where they can receive salts and fluids through a vein (intravenously), rather than by mouth. Intravenous hydration provides the body with water and essential nutrients much more quickly than oral solutions do.

Aug. 24, 2012

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