Cholera is a contagious infection that affects mostly the intestines apart from other parts of the body. The infection is known to cause severe effects to its victims, and it has claimed the lives of thousands of people every year. Although the illness is dangerous and severe, somehow not many people are aware of it. Here are some facts and information you should know about cholera.
What is cholera?
Cholera is an infection that originates from a bacterium. The type of bacteria responsible for cholera is called vibrio cholerae. Something you should know about the cholera bacteria is that they are highly infectious. Their nature allows for them to be ingested in the human body and once the body is exposed, the infection can occur within a very short period of time.
Causes of cholera?
If you get to understand the causes of cholera infection, then it will be easy for you to understand the ways that can be used to treat the infection. Cholera originates from vibrio cholorae bacteria, and it becomes an infection when the bacteria begins to spread. There are a number of ways you can contract cholera including:
- Intake of contaminated food: This is food that has come in contact with materials containing the bacteria. For example, food and drinks sold on the streets in an area where there is a cholera outbreak can be a cause of the infection. The cholera bacteria spreads very fast and can land on this food.
- Contaminated water: Water containing vibrio cholerae is the main the cause of the infection. Well and surface water are the most common types of water to be contaminated. Wells and surface water can easily be contaminated if closely located near a sanitation facility or sewage.
- Poorly cooked foods: Since the cholera bacteria is able to survive in different areas, foods grown with contaminated water carry the bacteria. Poor cooking of this food will allow entry of the bacteria into your stomach, which will cause the infection.
- Seafoods: Vibrio cholerae is known to live in certain sea creatures. Failure to properly cook such seafood will lead to entry of the bacteria into your body and cause the infection.
- Feces from an infected person: Cholera bacteria are carried in the feces of an infected person. Touching the feces, or digesting water or food that has been in contact with contaminated feces, can allow the bacteria to ingest in your body hence causing the infection.
When should I seek treatment
There are a number of factors indicating that you should seek treatment, including the following symptoms:
- Severe, watery vomiting and diarrhea: Once the vibrio cholerae bacteria ingests in the human intestines, it causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. The diarrhea and vomit are made up of mostly water, which causes severe dehydration.
- Severe stomach and muscle cramps: As a result of dehydration that is caused by diarrhea, if you experience severe muscle and stomach cramps you should seek treatment immediately.
- Abnormal skin: You will notice your skin refusing to return to its original position once stretched or pinched. Again, this is a result of extreme dehydration.
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart beat
Treatment for cholera
Once you experience the symptoms listed above you must seek treatment immediately. Cholera is a dangerous infection that can easily lead to death if not treated in immediate time. As a result of this, some of the treatment methods discussed here should be done at home and are effective.
- Re-hydration: Re-hydration is the simplest and the most immediate treatment method you can use for cholera, especially if it is still in its early stages. Lack of water in the body due to dehydration accelerates progression of the infection. Correcting this through re-hydration helps to treat the infection. To do this, you can use oral re-hydration solution which is available in powder form. Mix the content with safe water found such as bottled or boiled water.
- Antibiotics: Since the cause of cholera is a bacterial infection, killing the source bacteria is one of the methods used to treat the infection. This is achieved through the use of appropriate antibiotics immediately after you suspect that you may have the infection. Not only do these antibiotics help in treating the infection, but they also reduce the symptoms. The medication should lead to a decrease in the amount of vomiting and diarrhea. It also reduces the duration of these symptoms. Some of the antibiotic drugs for treating cholera include; Monodox, Oracea, vibramycin (Doxycycline) or Zithromax and Zmax which are azithromycin.
- Intake of high amounts of water: Apart from using ORS, drinking water is considered to be an effective method in treating cholera. Water is effective in re-hydrating the body as well as in helping out some of the toxins in the body brought about by the infection.
- Zinc supplements: Apart from other treatments, zinc supplements are considered to contain a component that is necessary in the treatment of a cholera infection. If you have cholera symptoms, taking zinc supplements can help to relieve and slow down the progression of the infection. It is an effective option for children as it reduces the duration of diarrhea among infected children.
- Probiotic yogurt: This is a type of natural remedy. It enables easy and fast digestion in the body. Since dehydration causes slowed digestion in the body, intake of probiotic yogurt helps to speed digestion hence boosting strength.
- Lemon: Lemon is also a natural remedy that one can use to treat cholera. Use of lemon has no side effects and is also easily accessible. Lemon juice is known to easy the symptoms of the infection. It also helps to boost the strength of the immune system.
- Intravenous fluids: In some cases, people suffering from a cholera infection may be experiencing severe symptoms that can even lead to death. Once you have severe diarrhea or vomiting symptoms, use of oral re-hydration may not work. In this case, the use of intravenous fluids is highly recommended. In such, this type of treatment is accessed from hospitals.
Complications of cholera
In cases where cholera is not treated effectively, there are high chances of various complications. Some of these complications may also appear if there is late treatment for the infection. Such complications include:
- Hypokalemia low potassium levels: People suffering from cholera are found to excrete stools with very high amounts of minerals. Among these minerals is potassium.
- Kidney failure: Fluids in the body are necessary for the process of filtering materials in the blood. As a result of too much dehydration, victims of cholera have reduced ability to filter waste hence it accumulates in the body. Due to this, the kidney is blocked and goes to a failure. This can lead to death.
- Hypoglycemia low blood sugar: This is a condition that mostly affects children. It results from minimal ability to eat, which reduces amounts of sugars in the body. Cholera victims are not able to eat and can suffer this complication.
The bottom line
Irrespective that cholera is a dangerous and contagious infection, it can be easily treated. However, early treatment of the infection is necessary to achieve. You should also apply necessary prevention measures to avoid contracting the infection. This is a step that apart from protecting you from the infection also keeps others safe from spread of the infection.
In case you notice any symptoms of the infection, you are required to seek treatment as soon as possible. Treatment guidelines should also be followed appropriately to avoid recurrence of the infection. Vaccination is another good way of controlling the infection.