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Typhoid Fever – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Typhoid fever, diarrhea, and vomiting are all symptoms of a bacterial infection called typhoid. It has the potential to be fatal. Salmonella typhi is the bacteria that causes it. The virus is spread by contaminated food and water, and it is more common in areas where handwashing is not practiced. It can also be spread by carriers who are unaware that they are carrying the germs.

Each year, around 5,700 cases are reported in the United States, with 75 percent of these illnesses beginning while travelling internationally. Typhoid affects around 21.5 million people worldwide each year. Typhoid can be successfully treated with medicines if discovered early; if not treated, typhoid can be fatal.

Which part of the body does the typhoid fever attack?

Typhoid is a bacterial infection. It does not just affect one organ, but multiple organs of the body. After reaching the bloodstream, the bacteria attack the gastrointestinal tract, including the liver, spleen, and muscles. Sometimes, the liver and spleen also swell. Bacteria can also reach the gallbladder, lungs, and kidneys through the blood.

The most well-known symptoms are fever and rashes on the body. Patients also experience high body temperature during the initial stage. Light red spots on the neck and abdomen also show the development of enteric fever.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Typhoid Fever?

Symptoms usually appear six to thirty days following contact to the pathogen. Typhoid fever and rash are the two most common symptoms. Typhoid fever is very severe, with temperatures rising to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (39 to 40 degrees Celsius) over several days. Rose-colored patches, mainly on the neck and belly, characterize the rash, which does not afflict every patient.

Some common signs of enteric fever are:

Many times, people carry the bacteria but do not show these signs. The symptoms develop gradually and often show up after 1-3 weeks. Some people carry the bacteria but do not get affected. They are asymptomatic carriers with no symptoms or signs.

If you feel any of these signs, consult your doctor quickly.

When to see a doctor?

Once you suspect you have typhoid fever, see a doctor immediately. Your doctor will diagnose and treat your illness wisely. To avoid complications, set up an appointment immediately after you have returned from a trip.

If you experience mild or severe symptoms, do not hesitate and reach out to your physician at the earliest.

How to Diagnose Typhoid Fever?

Typhoid diagnosis involves:

  • Testing antibodies against Salmonella typhi
  • Laboratory tests to check fever
  • Blood, stool, and urine samples
  • Bone marrow testing
  • Blood culture

The diagnosis is primarily clinical. But the most common techniques are using a stool sample or blood test. Tell your doctor if you have traveled recently. This will help identify the disease properly and at the right time to prevent complications.

On average, 3%-5% of patients become carriers of the bacteria after diagnosis.

What are the Causes of Typhoid Fever?

Typhoid fever is a severe intestinal infection. It may be caused in the following ways:

Fecal-oral transmission route

This includes a lack of proper sanitation and poor hygiene practices. In humans, water-borne diseases are the carriers. Fecal contamination also occurs through food, water, and direct contact.

In developing countries, where enteric fever is endemic, most infections originate from drinking contaminated water. Travelers spread the disease through a fecal-oral route.

So, the bacteria responsible passes in the feces. It also stays in the urine of infected people. You can also catch the infection if you get in contact with someone suffering from typhoid fever.

Typhoid carriers

There are some patients who, even after recovery, carry the disease in their intestinal tracts or gall bladders for quite some time. These carriers shed bacteria in the feces, causing infection to other people.

What are the Risk Factors for Typhoid?

Typhoid is a serious illness affecting millions of people around the world every year. Children are at higher risk of this disease.

Listed below are the risk factors that increase the chances of infection.

  • Unhygienic living conditions
  • Poor sanitation
  • Frequent traveling to affected areas
  • Coming in contact with a person suffering from typhoid
  • Touch to a flying insect feeding feces
  • To avoid typhoid infection, we advise you to stay away from the risks given above.

However, if you still get an infection, contact your doctor for timely diagnosis and treatment.

What are the Complications Associated with Typhoid Fever?

The most dangerous consequences of typhoid fever are gastrointestinal bleeding or holes. They commonly appear in the third week of a sick person’s illness. The small intestine or big bowel develops a hole in this disorder. The contents of the intestine flow into the stomach, causing severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and infection in the bloodstream (sepsis). This life-threatening condition necessitates prompt medical attention.

Complications occur in patients who do not undergo the proper antibiotic course. 1 out of 10 individuals experiences such risks. The most common ones observed are:

  • Splitting of the digestive system: Splitting or Perforation is a serious issue. In this, the bacteria move to the stomach and infect the abdomen lining (peritoneum). The condition is peritonitis.
  • The peritoneum lacks an inbuilt defense system for fighting infection. Therefore, the infection spreads rapidly to the blood and results in a medical emergency. If not treated at the right moment, it results in multiple organ failures and ultimately, the patient’s death.
  • An emergency pain in the abdomen is the only symptom. It makes the situation even worse. In this condition, admission to the hospital is very important. Your doctor gives antibiotic injections, followed by surgery to seal the intestinal wall.

Prevention

Vaccines, according to some experts, are the most effective strategy to prevent typhoid illness. If you live in or plan to go to locations where typhoid disease is a serious threat, you should get vaccinated. There are two vaccinations available.

  • At least one week prior to travel, one is administered as a single shot.
  • One is given orally in the form of four capsules, one of which is taken every other day.

Neither vaccine is guaranteed to be 100 percent effective. Because their potency fades out over time, both require repeated vaccines. When going to high-risk areas, observe these instructions because the vaccine won’t provide total protection:

  • Please wash your hands.
  • Do not drink untreated water. 
  • Raw fruits and vegetables should be avoided.
  • Choose foods that are spicy.
  • Find out where the doctors are located.
  • Prevent infecting others

If you’re recovering from typhoid fever, take these precautions to protect others:

  • Take your antibiotics as directed – Take your antibiotics according to your doctor’s recommendations, and make sure you finish the entire prescription.
  • Hands should be washed frequently – This is the single most critical thing you can do to prevent the illness from spreading further. Scrub thoroughly for at least 30 seconds with hot, soapy water, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
  • Food should not be handled – Wait until your doctor says you’re no longer contagious before preparing food for others. You won’t be allowed to return to work in the food service business or a health care facility until tests confirm you’re no longer shedding typhoid bacteria.

Treatment

Treatment at home

If you are identified with typhoid fever early on, you may be given antibiotic medications to take. The majority of people must take them for 7 to 14 days. Some strains of Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid fever, have developed resistance to one or more antibiotics. Within 2 to 3 days of starting antibiotics, your symptoms should start to improve.

However, it is critical that you complete the course in order to ensure that the germs are entirely gone from your body. Make sure you get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, and eat regularly. If your symptoms worsen or you develop new symptoms while being treated at home, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Dietary Recommendation for a Person with Typhoid

  • Eat small meals at frequent intervals
  • Electrolyte and fluid levels must be maintained
  • One must have a high protein and low fiber diet
  • Bland and soft diet
  • Fried, fatty, and spice food must be avoided

Hospital treatment

If you have severe typhoid fever symptoms, such as continuous vomiting, severe diarrhea, or a bloated stomach, you should go to the hospital. Young toddlers with typhoid fever may be admitted to the hospital as a precaution. Antibiotic injections will be administered to you in the hospital, and you may also be given fluids and nutrients directly into a vein via an intravenous drip.

If you have life-threatening typhoid fever complications, such as internal bleeding or a portion of your digestive system breaking, surgery may be required. However, in patients taking antibiotics, this is quite unusual. The majority of patients respond well to hospital care and improve within 3 to 5 days, but it may take many weeks for you to feel well enough to go.

Conclusion

It is contagious to have enteric fever. It gets severe and fatal if not treated in a timely manner. As a result, we recommend that you adopt cleanliness and appropriate hygiene measures to avoid contracting the disease. During healing, the body remains weak and requires appropriate nutrients. As a result, it is critical to combine medication with a suitable and healthy diet.

As noted previously, take the necessary preventative precautions. When visiting a region where typhoid is common, use caution. To avoid the spread of this dangerous disease, make sure you get your drugs on time and complete the entire treatment process.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between paratyphoid and typhoid fever?

Typhoid feverParatyphoid
Typhoid is caused by the bacteria called Salmonella typhiIt is caused by the bacteria called Salmonella paratyphoid
The indications and symptoms are rather severe and disabling.The indications and symptoms are not as severe and painful as they once were.
Vaccines are available to prevent typhoidThere is no immunological prevention for paratyphoid

Can typhoid cure itself?

Typhoid fever can persist a month or longer without treatment, and it can become very serious, even life-threatening. As long as the sickness does not create any other health problems, the symptoms usually start to fade in the third and fourth weeks. 

Can typhoid happen twice?

When typhoid fever is treated, some people experience a relapse, which is when symptoms recur. If this occurs, symptoms normally return about a week after the antibiotic treatment has ended.

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