Cholera is an infectious disease of the intestine due to eating or drinking contaminated food or water, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. It can be fatal if left untreated.
Cholera is a bacterial disease, it is caused by Vibrio Cholerae and symptoms vary from mild to severe, characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. Rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock, death may occur within hours without treatment.
How Cholera Spreads with Symptoms:
Cholera spreads from water or food sources that have been contaminated by stool of the Cholera infected person. Cholera is most likely to be found and spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene. A person can get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium.
When a person consumes the contaminated food or water, the bacteria release a toxin in the intestines that produces severe diarrhoea.
Cholera infection may remain in mild or without symptoms. Symptoms may include-
- Diarrhoea- Cholera-related diarrhoea comes on suddenly and may quickly cause dangerous fluid loss — as much as a quart (about 1 liter) an hour
- Nausea and vomiting -O ccurring especially in the early stages of cholera, vomiting may persist for hours at a time.
- Dehydration- Fluid loss from diarrhea and vomiting leads to dehydration. It includes rapid heart rate, loss of skin elasticity, low blood pressure, increases thirst, dry mouth.
- Shock- From severe dehydration states it causes shock and lead to death if untreated.
What to do if one gets Cholera
Cholera should be treated in the initial stages in hospital due to the severity of dehydration it can cause. At first Cholera should be diagnosed by taking history from the patient, seeing signs, symptoms and a stool examination for Vibrio Cholerae.
The main treatment of Cholera is to correct dehydration by fluid and electrolyte replacement (Both Oral Rehydration Saline and Intravenous Fluid is used). Antibiotics are used in severe infections in which dehydration has occurred.
Complications of Cholera
Cholera may become fatal very quickly. It may lead to death within two to three hours due to rapid loss of fluids and electrolytes. Cholera patients may die of dehydration and shock within a very short time after cholera symptoms first appear if proper treatment is not taken in time. Apart from shock and severe dehydration, some more complications may also occur, such as:
Low Blood Sugar (hypoglycemia): When people become too ill to eat, blood sugar (glucose) level of the body falls drastically which may cause lead to seizures, unconsciousness and even death. Children are more sensitive of these complications.
Low Potassium Levels (hypokalemia): Cholera patients lose large quantities of fluids and minerals which creates a lack of potassium in the body and causes malfunctioning heart and nerve.
Kidney (renal) Failure: When the body loses excessive fluids and electrolytes, wastes start building up and this hampers the filtering process of the kidneys. It may lead to kidney failure and creates shock which is life-threatening.
Therefore, we have to ensure proper drainage system, hygiene, adequate healthcare and drink refined water to avoid such a life-threatening disease. Adequate knowledge about symptoms and immediate consultation with doctor can reduce threats.