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) or atropine (Lomotil), because they can make your condition worse.
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 a 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.
July 08, 2015
- Ferri FF. Shigellosis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 17, 2015.
- DuPont HL. Bacillary dysentery. In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 17, 2015.
- Marx JA, et al. Infectious diarrheal disease and dehydration. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 17, 2015.
- Bowen A, et al. The Yellow Book 2014: CDC health information for international travel. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/shigellosis. Accessed June 17, 2015.
- Shigella – shigellosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/shigella/index.html. Accessed June 17, 2015.
- Shigella infections among gay & bisexual men. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/shigella/msm.html. Accessed June 17, 2015.