Typhoid, also known as typhoid fever, occurs due to infection by the salmonella typhi bacteria. It spreads through ingestion of contaminated food and water. It can also spread through close contact with someone who has the infection. Typhoid leads to symptoms such as headache, abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea. The symptoms are alleviated with the help of antibiotic medications. Typhoid, in some cases, may result in serious life-threatening complications. There are vaccines available for typhoid. While the new vaccines for typhoid do offer considerable protection they are not guaranteed to work, but can considerably lower the risks of infection. Individuals who are travelling to regions where typhoid fever is widespread are advised avail of the vaccine.
Symptoms of Typhoid
The symptoms of typhoid tend to develop gradually over a period of time. It may take up to three weeks after exposure to the infection for the symptoms to surface. Children affected with typhoid fever however may fall ill suddenly. The common typhoid fever symptoms include:
- In the first stage, symptoms such as headaches, sore throats, abdominal pain, rashes, constipation, diarrhea, weakness and fever are likely to occur. Adults usually suffer from constipation, while children may have diarrhea.
- If treatment is not received promptly, the disease advances to the second stage with typhoid symptoms such as high fever, severe constipation, diarrhea, weight loss and distention of the abdomen. In the second week, there may also be a rash consisting of tiny, flat, pinkish spots on the abdomen and chest. The rash usually goes away in a few days.
- In the third stage, the individual may become delirious and may enter the typhoid state. This state is characterized by severe exhaustion and the individual may remain motionless with the eyes half closed. Serious complications may occur during this stage and this could even result in death.
- In the fourth stage of typhoid fever, there may be some improvement in the symptoms. The fever will come down and body temperature may return to normal within weeks time. However, the symptoms may recur within the next two weeks.
It is important to consult a doctor immediately if you notice signs and symptoms of typhoid. If you are planning to travel, it is a good idea to learn about medical care in those places. Individuals who fall sick after returning home should consult a specialist in infectious diseases so that the condition can be treated quickly.
Causes of Typhoid
Typhoid is caused by salmonella typhi, a type of bacteria. Typhoid fever causes include the following:
- The bacterium responsible for typhoid fever spreads through food and water. Causes of typhoid also include direct contact with an infected individual. Typhoid is endemic in certain regions where there is poor sanitation and contaminated water. Most people who live in industrialized nations contract the disease while travelling to developing and underdeveloped nations. The disease then continues to spread through the feces and urine. This means that an infected person who has not disinfected properly after using the bathroom can contaminate any food he/she handles.
- The bacteria may remain dormant in some people even after they receive treatment. It stays in the gallbladder or intestines for many years. Such people are referred to as chronic carriers. The bacteria can spread through their feces and infect others. However the chronic carriers themselves may not suffer from any signs or symptoms.
- Certain people are at a higher risk of developing typhoid fever. These include people who travel to areas where the condition is endemic and those in the field of clinical microbiology who handle the salmonella typhi bacterium. Even those with a weak immune system may be at risk for developing typhoid.
Typhoid fever may lead to intestinal perforation or bleeding. This is a serious condition that may occur in the third stage of the illness. Intestinal perforation occurs when a hole develops in the small or large intestine. The intestinal contents pass into the abdominal cavity, resulting in pain, nausea and vomiting. It may also lead to infection of the blood. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Intestinal bleeding may lead to low blood pressure and blood in the stools. Some of the other conditions of typhoid fever are pneumonia, myocarditis, pancreatitis, kidney infections, bladder infections, and infection of the spine. In some cases psychiatric complications such as hallucinations and delirium may also occur.
Remedies for Typhoid
Typhoid fever treatment typically involves antibiotic medications. There are some additional measures that could help to manage the symptoms, but keep in mind that medical attention is absolutely necessary. Home remedies for typhoid may help to alleviate the symptoms and could even facilitate recovery, but they should only be used to complement medical treatment. It should also be pointed out that most of these home treatments are not backed by scientific studies. Some such home remedies include:
- Drink plenty of fluids as this helps to prevent dehydration which occurs due to high fever and diarrhea. Individuals, who suffer from severe dehydration, may have to receive fluids intravenously.
- It is also important to follow a healthy diet. Nutritional deficiencies can easily develop due to the illness and hence you need to consume high-calorie, nutritious meals.
- Home remedies for typhoid include honey and water. Add some honey to warm water and drink this, as this soothes the digestive tract. Honey also supplies energy to the body.
- Combine a few basil leaves, saffron and a few black pepper corns. Grind into a paste by adding a small amount of water. Divide the paste into small tablets and have one twice daily along with lukewarm water.
- Cloves are a beneficial cure for typhoid. Add four to five cloves to water and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the solution reduces to half its original quantity and then filter it. This should be given to the patient every day for a few days.
- Add one to two teaspoons of fresh coriander juice to a cup of buttermilk and drink twice every day.
- Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeinated beverages, tea, carbonated drinks and spicy foods.
- Avoid milk and dairy products if you have diarrhea.
- Increase your consumption of coconut water, fresh fruit juices, soups and glucose water.
- Rice gruel is often recommended for those with typhoid fever. It is easy on the stomach and provides many important nutrients.
- Avoid drinking water along with meals.
- Consume foods that are high in fiber if you suffer from constipation.
- To improve bowel movements, add psyllium seeds to warm milk and drink.
Diet for Typhoid
The main aim of a special diet for typhoid fever is to ensure that you receive proper nutrition, to balance the levels of fluids and electrolytes in the body and to supply the body with sufficient protein. It is important to ensure a good intake of the following nutrients:
- Energy The basal metabolic rate reduces when there is a fever and hence the caloric requirement must be high. The illness also causes some amount of restlessness and this leads to greater expenditure of energy. In the early stages of the illness, the individual will be able to consume only about 600 to 1200kcal per day. This intake should increase as soon as possible.
- Protein A high protein diet is necessary for recovery from typhoid fever. Approximately 100gm of protein per day is recommended for adults. Protein can be obtained from foods such as eggs and milk.
- Carbohydrates A healthy intake of carbohydrates is a must to meet the bodys energy requirements. It is advisable to consume those food sources of carbohydrates that are easily digestible. Consume well cooked foods that are not high in sugar.
- Fiber Typhoid leads to damage of the digestive tract and hence any foods that cause irritation should be avoided. Fiber can be harsh on the digestive system and hence it is better to follow a low-fiber diet.
- Fats A moderate intake of fat is necessary for a steady supply of energy. However, it would be necessary to restrict fat consumption if there is diarrhea.
- Minerals Due to fever and sweating, there is an increased loss of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. Consume fruit juices, soups and broths to compensate for the mineral loss.
- Vitamins The need for vitamins increases during infection and illness.
- Fluids Ensure a good intake of fluids to make up for the loss of hydration. Fluid intake is also necessary to encourage elimination of waste material and toxins through the urine.
Suggestions for Typhoid
The following measures aid in recovery from typhoid and also help in preventing a spread of the infection:
- Maintain good hygiene in order to prevent a spread of typhoid. Wash your hands frequently with hot water and soap especially before eating and after going to the bathroom.
- Keep the toilets, water faucets, telephone receivers and door handles clean at all times.
- If you have typhoid, avoid handling food as this can cause the disease to spread. Wait for your doctors consent before preparing food for others.
- Keep your personal items such as towels and utensils separate. Also wash them regularly with hot water and soap. Clothes, towels or bed linen that are heavily soiled should first be soaked in disinfectant for a some time before being washed.
- Silvia Michanie, Frank L. Bryan, Persia Alvarez, Auria Barros Olivo, Aurelio Paniagua, Critical control points for foods prepared in households whose members had either alleged typhoid fever or diarrhea, International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 7, Issue 2, October 1988, Pages 123-134, ISSN 0168-1605, 10.1016/0168-1605(88)90005-0.
Typhoid - Frequently asked questions