Difference between Dysentery and Diarrhea
By Laura Lee - June 25, 2023

These two are common conditions that cause more than a fair share of painful trips to the bathroom. However, they are very different conditions from each other.


Dysentery is an inflammation and infection of the intestines that results in bloody or mucus diarrhea. Bacillary dysentery, often known as shigellosis, is the most prevalent kind of infectious dysentery. This kind is caused by Shigella bacterium infection. Amebic dysentery, often known as amebiasis, is another common kind of dysentery. This kind is caused by an infection with the single-celled parasite Entamoeba.

Diarrhea is distinguished by unusually loose or watery feces. Many occurrences of diarrhea are caused by a gastrointestinal illness. Bacteria (most often Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, and Escherichia coli.), viruses, and parasitic organisms comprise the microorganisms responsible for this illness.
It is classified into three types: watery, fatty (malabsorption), and inflammatory. Watery diarrhea is classified as osmotic, secretory, or functional. Irritable bowel syndrome is the most prevalent cause of functional diarrhea, which is a type of diarrhea caused by organ complications.

Dysentery vs. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is characterized by the frequent passage of loose or watery stools (at least three times per day). In contrast, dysentery is an intestinal inflammation, particularly in the colon, that can result in severe diarrhea with mucus or blood in the feces. Dysentery is symptomized by diarrhea.

Only the small bowel is affected by diarrheal infection, particularly the intestinal lumen and higher epithelial cells. Dysentery not only affects upper epithelial cells but also causes colon ulceration.

A viral infection mainly causes diarrhea. Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Sapovirus are examples of these viruses. Dysentery is caused primarily by bacteria such as Shigella, Campylobacter jejuni (particularly in babies), and E.coli. Histolytic Entamoeba (cause dysentery in adults and older children).

Comparison Chart
  1. Cramping, fevers and discomfort in the lower abdomen are common complaints.
The patient may or may not complain of cramping or discomfort.
  1. Blood or mucus in stool
No blood or mucus in stool
  1. If dysentery is not treated with antibiotics, it could cause severe complications.
Apart from the risk of dehydration, the effects of diarrhea are not very severe.