symptoms of typhoid

Causes of typhoid

Typhoid is a fever caused by bacterial infection. The bacterium salmonella typhimurium, which grows in the intestine and blood causes the infection and consequent fever called typhoid fever. Only humans are affected by typhoid causing bacteria.

Typhoid fever is spread due to eating or drinking of food or water contaminated by contact with feces of an infected person.  Poor hygiene or poor sanitation also causes the bacterial infection.

Transmission of bacteria causing typhoid is only from human to human. The bacteria enters a person through the mouth and stays in the intestine for weeks. If not removed by this time, it reaches the intestine wall and then into the blood stream and eventually to other tissues and organs of the body.  The bacteria causing typhoid fever is not killed by the immune system of the body and hence stay in the body comfortably, if not treated.

Typhoid fever is diagnosed by conducting blood test, urine test or bone marrow test.

Symptoms of typhoid

Symptoms of typhoid fever are:

  • High fever increasing constantly even up to 104 or 105 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Skin rash
  • Head ache
  • Loss of appetite or poor appetite
  • General body pain and aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sweating
  • Dry cough
  • Swollen abdomen

If not treated in time the person affected by typhoid fever may become delirious and become very weak and unable to move the body or open the eyes.

Symptoms of typhoid

Abdominal pain and discomfort are the most common symptoms. Moreover fever remains constant and increases day by day.

Rash does not appear on every patient affected by typhoid but when it appears it is found on the neck and abdomen as rose colored spots.

Do bear in mind that the symptoms of the fever surfaces only after incubation period of the bacteria and eventual infection of the blood. The inference is that even early symptoms are enough to foresee the magnitude of the disease and properly diagnosed for appropriate treatment.

Treatment for typhoid fever

A person affected by typhoid fever has to prevent dehydration and diarrhea by drinking sufficient quantity of fluids and water.

Typhoid fever is treated by administering antibiotics for weeks but may relapse upon stopping the medicine. In chronic cases of the fever only removal of the gall bladder is the permanent cure, since in acute and chronic cases of typhoid gall bladder is the most infected organ.

Intestinal bleeding or perforation may also occur after a few weeks of the fever.

If treated with appropriate antibiotics, typhoid fever will get reduced even within a few days but the treatment need to be continued for a couple of weeks to ensure against relapse. Antibiotics treatment takes quite some time to provide the desired result. Even in cases where the fever appear to have gone there is every chance of relapse. In addition to oral antibiotics, vaccines are also administered for quick remedy.

Alternate antibiotics need to be used if the patient is resistant to any particular antibiotic. It is decided only by the doctor who diagnosed.

Typhoid and Peritonitis

Untreated typhoid fever causes perforation of the bowel leading to peritonitis. Peritonitis means

Inflammation of the Peritoneum lining the Abdominal Cavity as the result of infectious, autoimmune, or Chemical Processes. Primary peritonitis is due to Infection of the Peritoneal Cavity via hematogenous or lymphatic spread and without intra-abdominal source. Secondary peritonitis arises from the Abdominal Cavity itself through Rupture or Abscess of intra-abdominal organs (medical dictionary).

It can be observed that peritonitis is a serious condition which may become fatal to drive home the point that typhoid fever must not be left untreated for unreasonably longer duration.

Certain preventive measures can be adopted in order to protect oneself from being affected by typhoid fever. Primary measures are improving the sanitary conditions, using safe drinking water and vaccination.

How to prevent typhoid?

  • Washing the hands frequently and particularly before preparing and or consuming food
  • Drinking only treated water preferably carbonated bottled water
  • Avoiding consumption of raw fruits and vegetables
  • Consuming only well cooked food and vegetables
  • Drink as much fluids as possible to prevent dehydration and diarrhea

Preventive measures are very important even if vaccination is done since vaccination cannot completely immunize the body from contacting typhoid fever.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.