Contributed by – Healthians team
Typhoid is a fairly common illness in our country. In fact, it is highly probable that you or someone you know must have had it at some point. However, even with all the typhoid awareness, people still continue to succumb to it every year. While you might know a little about typhoid, here, you will learn everything important, from its symptoms and causes to typhoid treatment and aftercare.
What is typhoid?
Typhoid is a contagious infection caused by Salmonella Typhimurium (S. Typhi) bacteria. If these bacteria are present in your food or water, then you might develop typhoid fever after consumption. The bacteria enter your body through your mouth and spend about 3 weeks in the intestine. After that, they make their way through the intestinal wall into your bloodstream. And from there they spread to other tissues and organs. Unfortunately, your immune system is not able to do much about the S.Typhi bacteria because they can live within your cells which the immune system doesn’t attack.
How does typhoid spread?
Typhoid spreads by contaminated food and water or through close contact with someone who is carrying the infection irrespective of the fact whether they are showing the symptoms of typhoid or not. The risk factor here is that the virus can survive for weeks in water or dried sewage.
You can get typhoid fever if:
- You eat or drink food and water which is touched by someone who is infected and is actively shedding the bacteria.
- The water you drink is contaminated with the stool carrying the bacteria.
- The water used to rinse raw food is contaminated with the bacteria.
What are the symptoms of typhoid fever?
The two main symptoms of typhoid that you need to look out for are fever and rashes. The fever gradually increases, reaching a peak of 39 or 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degree Fahrenheit. And the rashes consist of rose-colored spots, particularly on the neck and abdomen, but they may not appear in every typhoid patient. The incubation period of typhoid is about 10-14 days and the following symptoms may also appear in patients:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach troubles – like diarrhoea, constipation
[Continuously rising fever? Get Tested]
What are the complications of typhoid fever?
Although rare, the most serious complication of typhoid fever is intestinal bleeding. It may develop in the third week of infection wherein the small or large intestine develops a hole. Due to this, intestinal contents start leaking into your abdominal cavity and trigger symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bloodstream infection. This complication makes typhoid fever fatal.
Apart from this, any of the following conditions can also occur because of typhoid complications:
- Inflammation of the heart
- Inflammation of the lining of the heart
- Kidney infection
- Infection of the membrane and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord
- Psychiatric problems
How is typhoid fever diagnosed and treated?
Typhoid fever diagnosis can be done with a typhoid test which checks for the bacteria in your body. These tests are easily available and are very affordable. Besides, you can also get the test reports within a day of the sample collection. Additionally, you can get a fever or a stomach test done to check if there is some other medical condition causing your symptoms.
As far as treatment is concerned, antibiotic therapy is the best treatment for typhoid. However, you shouldn’t self medicate for typhoid fever as the typhoid antibiotics come with certain side effects and long term use can be harmful.
Is there a typhoid vaccine?
To prevent and control the spread of typhoid fever, the World Health Organisation recommends the following typhoid vaccine:
- An injectable typhoid conjugate vaccine (TVC) for children of 6 months of age to adults up to 45 years of age.
- An injectable unconjugated polysaccharide vaccine for the age of 2 years and above.
- An oral live attenuated vaccine in capsule form for the age of 6 years and above.
However, these vaccines may not be 100% effective and you will require repeat immunizations as the effect of the vaccines diminishes over time.
How to prevent typhoid fever?
Since typhoid vaccines may not be very effective, it is important for you to take proper precautions to avoid contracting typhoid fever. The very first thing that you should do is that whenever you travel, do some research and if typhoid fever is common in the place you are traveling to, then always get vaccinated before leaving.
Other than this, you can follow these tips to avoid typhoid fever:
- Don’t drink tap water.
- Avoid ice cubes or popsicle sticks unless you are sure that they are made from bottled or boiled water.
- Buy bottled drinks only.
- Boil non-bottled water for at least 1 minute before drinking.
- Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.
- Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, avoid direct contact with other people.
Is typhoid aftercare necessary?
The thing about typhoid fever is that the danger from it doesn’t end when its symptoms disappear. If you are recovering from typhoid, then you may find some relief in the symptoms but you’ll still carry the bacteria for 3 months or in some cases for more than a year. This makes you a carrier of the bacteria and a potential risk for others as you’ll be actively shedding the bacteria which others can get infected with. Hence, it is important that you follow the necessary typhoid aftercare tips.
- Complete your prescribed antibiotic course.
- Follow personal hygiene.
- If you feel sick, maintain proper distance from others.
- Avoid handling food with unwashed hands.
- Don’t share personal care equipment with others
- Unless cleared by the doctor, don’t attend social gatherings.
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