What is Cholera? Symptoms, Causes & Treatment You Need to Know

When a restaurant has a viral outbreak or every third person you know comes down with norovirus at work, it’s easy to remember that not all viruses are bad. Most of them exist peacefully within our bodies and have beneficial effects on our immune systems. However, some viruses are dangerous and life-threatening.

Take cholera for example, one of the most notorious human pathogens and one of the few bacteria that can cause an outbreak in humans. An infection from the cholera virus is an emergency situation, but rest assured: you can get through it if you take measures to avoid dehydration and take care of your body after recovery. In this article we’ll discuss what cholera is, its causes, symptoms, treatment methods and prevention tips.

What is Cholera?

Cholera is a bacterial infection in your small intestine. It causes diarrhea that can lead to serious dehydration very quickly. If you develop cholera, you should get medical care right away to prevent death.

Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera. This bacterium lives in water and can infect people through contaminated food or water. Small children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop cholera.

Causes of Cholera

Cholera is caused by bacteria called vibrio cholera which is spread through contaminated water or food. People who live in areas with inadequate water sanitation are at increased risk. The vibrio cholera bacterium can survive for many hours outside of the human body.

Environmental factors such as temperature, pH level, and sunlight may affect vibrio cholera’s ability to survive outside the body. People get cholera by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with the vibrio cholera bacteria. You can also get cholera by eating food that has been handled by a person who does not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom.

Symptoms of Cholera

The first symptoms of cholera can be subtle and easily mistaken for another illness. After a few hours or days, they intensify and you will feel more acutely unwell. The classic cholera symptom is profuse watery diarrhea. The diarrhea is very watery and frequent, sometimes occurring every 10 minutes. Sometimes the diarrhea is tarry black blood stools depending on the stage of the infection.

In severe cases, dehydration and death may occur after a day or two of diarrhea if therapeutic and restorative care is not provided. Beyond diarrhea, other cholera symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, and dehydration.

Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can be life-threatening. If you suspect that you have cholera, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How is Cholera Treated?

The treatment for cholera is rehydration. You need to replace all the fluids that you’ve lost through vomiting and diarrhea. This will help reduce the risk of death and complications. There are oral rehydration solutions that you can purchase at the pharmacy or make at home by adding salt and sugar to water.

There are commercially available oral rehydration fluids that are designed to taste better and be more effective. You should also get plenty of rest and avoid rigorous physical activity. While rehydrating is the most important part of treatment, certain medications may be prescribed to slow the symptoms down and reduce cramping and diarrhea.

How to Prevent Cholera?

The best way to prevent cholera is through proper sanitation. This means that you need to wash your hands frequently and be careful about the food and water you consume. If you have travelled to a cholera-prone area, be aware that you may have been exposed to the bacteria.

If you have diarrhea for more than a day, you should see a doctor and let them know if you have travelled to a cholera-prone area recently. If you want to stay healthy while travelling, you should try to maintain a high standard of hygiene and avoid drinking water from questionable sources.


Cholera is a bacterial infection that causes profuse watery diarrhea. The best way to prevent cholera is through proper sanitation. If you think you might have cholera, you should see a doctor and let them know if you have travelled to a cholera-prone area recently.


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