8 Symptoms of Cholera

Cholera is a serious disease that is spread by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. The bacteria usually spreads through water that has been contaminated by an infected person’s fecal matter. It can also be spread through raw shellfish and raw fruits and vegetables. Not everyone who is exposed to the bacteria gets sick, but their stool may still contain traces of the bacteria. Even a tiny amount of fecal matter could contain enough of the bacteria to infect someone else.

When an individual does get sick with cholera, they’ll rapidly lose fluids, which causes uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes life threatening symptoms. A severe case of cholera can lead to death within hours, and even mild or moderate cases can make you dangerously dehydrated. Fortunately, the disease is easy to treat with rehydration solutions and antibiotics. The sooner you receive medical treatment, the sooner your symptoms will clear up. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cholera, so you can seek immediate medical attention if you become infected.

1. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the main symptom of cholera. The majority of people who are exposed to the cholera bacteria only experience this mildly or moderately, and it’s often attributed to other problems like food poisoning. About one in 10 people infected with the bacteria develop serious symptoms. In these cases, the diarrhea comes on very suddenly and can be severe. This occurs because the bacteria produces a toxin that binds to the walls of your small intestine.

There, it interferes with your body’s sodium and chloride levels, and it causes the cells that line your intestine to release more water than usual. Diarrhea and other symptoms usually appear two or three days after being infected with the bacteria, but it sometimes only takes a few hours for a person to become ill. Stools usually have a pale or milky appearance. In severe cases, you may lose a quart of fluid an hour, which can lead to extreme dehydration. The disease can be fatal if you lose too much fluid or salt, so fast treatment is important. It can usually be treated by drinking lots of water and consuming a mixture of salt and sugar, but you may need intravenous solutions to replace the fluids.