What is typhoid?
Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, is an acute illness caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria. It has an insidious onset with fever, headache, malaise, chills, constipation and muscle ache. Diarrhea and vomiting are uncommon.
It is caused by the consumption of contaminated drinking water or food. Large epidemics are related to faecal contamination of water or street foods. Typhoid fever spreads only through direct contact with the feces of a Salmonella typhimurium infected person. It is always transmitted from one human to another, and not by animals. If typhoid is left untreated, it can result in death.
Once the S.typhi bacterium enters the body, it stays in the host’s intestine for about 1-3 weeks. After this, it slowly makes its way into the bloodstream of the infected patient. Thereafter, the infection is spread to other tissues and organs of the host.
The immune system of the patient can hardly fight with the S.typhi bacterium, as it can live within the patient’s cells, shunned away from the host’s immune system.
What are the common symptoms of typhoid?
Symptoms of typhoid are as follows:
1. The symptoms of typhoid fever show after 1-2 weeks after one has been exposed to Salmonella typhi bacteria. Some of the main symptoms of typhoid are:
- High temperature up to 39 to 40 degree centigrade. The fever raises suddenly and is very high.
- Body ache and joint pain
2. As the infection progresses, one may feel sick, lose of appetite, stomach ache and diarrhea. Some people even develop rashes. Typhoid rash consists of small pink spots referred to as ‘’rose spots’’ that lasts for around 3 to 5 days.
3. In some complicated cases, symptoms like confusion, delirium, hallucinations, bleeding in vomit or stools, swollen abdomen and breathlessness are observed. In such cases, quick medical attention is needed.
What causes typhoid fever?
Major causes of typhoid are :
Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria. Poor sanitation and infected human waste contaminates the water supply. Drinking contaminated water and consumption of food washed or cooked in it can cause typhoid fever.
Other means of spreading the infection are as follows:
- Using contaminated toilet and touching food without properly washing hands.
- Eating seafood from a contaminated water source.
- Eating raw vegetables fertilised in contaminated human waste.
- Contaminated milk products consumption.
- Oral or anal sex with a carrier of the salmonella typhi bacteria.
What are the Precautions to be Taken in Typhoid?
Precautions to be taken in typhoid are as follows:
- A proper water supply and a good drainage system are essential for the prevention of this disease.
- Safe water for drinking and kitchen use is important. Avoid drinking contaminated water or water that has been kept in open for a longer period of time.
- Proper sanitation habits like washing hands after using a toilet and before eating must be practiced.
- Food should be hygienically prepared and stored.
- Flies and cockroaches can spread the disease, so should be dealt with effectively. Regular disinfection of the house must be done.
- People handling food should be periodically tested and their stools must be examined.
- Vaccines are available for protection against typhoid. The older TAB vaccine is no longer used. Newer oral and injectable vaccines are widely available and provide immunity for approximately two years. These vaccines need to be boosted every two years by repeating the doses.
How is typhoid fever diagnosed?
The diagnosis of typhoid is usually made by testing samples of blood, stools or urine, under a microscope for the Salmonella typhi which is responsible for the infection. The bacteria aren’t always detected for the first time.
Testing a sample of bone marrow is the best way to detect the bacteria, but this can be time-consuming and painful so it is only done when other tests are inconclusive.
Typhoid illness stays in the body between 7 and 14 days but can be as short as 3 days or as long as 30 days. If untreated, the illness may last for 3 to 4 weeks.
Widal test should be done at least after 5 to 7 days of fever by tube method and titer of 1 in 160 for both H and O antibodies is considered as diagnostic. Slide Widal test should be discouraged due to the high possibility of false-positivity.
Typhoid test detects IgG and M against the outer membrane protein of Salmonella typhi. This is done by taking the blood sample of the patient and performing blood culture on it to check the presence of the bacteria.
How is typhoid fever treated?
- The treatment of typhoid targets the fever caused by the infection, control the infection and maintain the proper fluid balances in the body of the patient.
- Thus, in order to overcome the fever and to control the infection, the patient is given antibiotic medicines such as ampicillin, chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin.
- If the patient is able to take dietary supplements, then oral rehydration therapy is given so as to maintain the fluid balance after the fluid loss caused by diarrhoea.
- But, if the patient is unable to consume anything via mouth due to excessive vomiting, then IV based fluids and medicines are injected so as to overcome the infection and to keep the patient hydrated.
- Patients who become chronically ill are treated with antibiotics and in rare cases, gallbladder is removed via surgery.
Is typhoid vaccine necessary?
Typhoid Vaccination is recommended to people living in high-risk areas like the Indian subcontinent and some other areas of Asia, Africa, Central, and South America because there is prolonged exposure to potentially contaminated food and drink in these areas.
Vaccination of typhoid is not 100% effective and is definitely not a substitute for careful selection of food and water. It is diagnosed by Stool culture and treated by Antibiotics. About 3-5% of people become its carriers.
Typhoid Diet: Here's What You Should Eat And Avoid in Typhoid
The diet consumed during typhoid affects the quality of treatment, and therefore, it should be monitored closely. Taking less proportion of food at regular intervals will help in maintaining the strength and energy of your body. Protein-based foods should be an important part of the typhoid patient diet.
Foods To Eat
- High-calorie diet is recommended. This compensates for the weight loss that occurs during the illness.
- Fluid intake is important as typhoid causes high fever and severe diarrhea, ultimately leading to dehydration. So, eating food items with high water content and taking plenty of juices and milk is important. In order to maintain an adequate urine output, fluid consumption has to be increased to at least 3 to 4 liters.
- Semi-solid food may be easy for a typhoid patient to digest. Eating foods with high carbohydrate content can be beneficial. These may include boiled rice, baked potato and poached eggs.
- Dairy products must be consumed in high quantities when suffering from the illness
- The diet must also include yogurt and eggs as they are easy to digest and make up for the protein deficiency. Vegetarians may consume legumes and cottage cheese.
- Food items rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the body.
- There is excessive loss of electrolytes which may be compensated by consuming soups, broths, fruit juices and milk.
- Vitamin supplements are required to compensate for the loss caused by typhoid fever.
Foods to Avoid during Typhoid:
- High fibre foods may distress the digestive system.
- Vegetables like cabbage and capsicum cause gas and bloating.
- Strong flavoured food should be avoided.
- Spicy and acetic acid foods like chilli, hot sauce and vinegar should be kept at bay.
- Ghee, butter and fried foods should be avoided.
- Always wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Avoid places with low hygiene levels.
- Wash your hands before eating.
- Drink bottled water.
Also Read: Diet Chart for Typhoid Patient
What are the Home Remedies for Typhoid?
Since typhoid is a bacterial infection, there is the need to take medicines to avoid complications. Home remedies are a supportive add on along with the medicines. Some of them are listed below:
- Cold compresses: It allows the body temperature to come down quickly in fever.
- Increase fluid intake: This helps to overcome dehydration and get rid of toxins and waste material.
- Homemade ORS: This is used to prevent dehydration by maintaining fluid balances.
- Apple cider vinegar: Its acidic property helps draw heat out of the skin, which in turn reduces body temperature.
- Garlic: Its antimicrobial properties help fight off bacteria. It will also boost the immune system and eliminates harmful toxins from the body to speed up recovery.
- Basil: This herb has antibiotic and antibacterial properties that help get rid of the bacteria causing typhoid. Moreover, it helps bring down fever, calm the stomach and boost your immune system.
- Cloves: Its essential oils have antibacterial properties. Also, Cloves help ease diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Bananas: They can help bring down fever and treat diarrhoea in people enduring typhoid. The pectin present in bananas is a soluble fibre, that helps absorb liquid in the intestine, thus reducing diarrhea. Moreover, potassium in bananas helps replace the electrolytes lost in fever and diarrhoea.
- Buttermilk: It is easy on the stomach and aids recovery. It also helps combat dehydration.
- Eat High-Nutrition Foods
Read More: Home Remedies For Typhoid