Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease caused by the consumption of Salmonella typhi bacteria through contaminated food items and drinks. It is generally passed from an infected person to a healthy person through any sort of physical contact and is often accompanied by diarrhoea and vomiting. Globally, 21.5 million people contract typhoid every year.
Typhoid can last from 3 to 30 days. It is diagnosed by doctors via blood, stool, or urine tests. As typhoid is a water-borne disease, the risks of getting typhoid increase during the monsoon. However, it usually takes longer to show any symptoms after exposure to the bacteria. This is because upon coming into contact with the infected person or consuming contaminated foods, S. typhi enters the mouth and remains in the intestine for 1-3 weeks. From there, it travels into the bloodstream through the intestinal walls and spreads to other tissues and organs, thus leading to typhoid. As S. typhi can live within the host cell, the immune system can do little to eliminate it from the body.
Symptoms of typhoid fever
Depending on its complexity and severity, typhoid shows a number of symptoms in an infected person.
At early stages:
- Fluctuating fever, which starts low and increases every day (99 – 104.5-degrees F)
- Headache & muscle aches
- Stomach pain, diarrhoea or constipation
- Loss of appetite & weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Dry cough
- Skin disorders such as the development of a rose-coloured rash on the neck, stomach, or abdomen area
- Weakness & fatigue
- Extremely swollen stomach
- Feeling nauseous & vomiting
If not diagnosed or treated at early stages, the disease may become fatal and lead to various serious complications and acute disorders.
At later stages:
- Feeling constantly exhausted & lying in a motionless state with partially closed eyes. This is commonly called ‘the typhoid state’.
- Vomiting blood & internal bleeding.
- Perforation of intestine or intestinal bleeding: This is the most common complication of typhoid. In this condition, the walls of the intestine start withering & developing holes, allowing the contents to leak into the stomach. This further leads to severe stomach pain, vomiting, sepsis, etc., requiring immediate surgery.
- Various psychiatric problems such as delirium, hallucinations, paranoid psychosis, etc., may also develop.
- Inflammation or infection in the brain & spinal membranes
- Pancreatic infection
- Kidney & bladder disorders
- Development of myocarditis & endocarditis
- Peritonitis develops when bacteria enter the lining of the abdomen, causing multiple organ failures. Some people are asymptomatic carriers of typhoid. Though the bacteria have no negative effects on the carrier, they can still infect others because they shed bacteria in their faeces. Since typhoid can become fatal and deadly at later stages, its early diagnosis is essential for effective treatment. Therefore, one should immediately seek a doctor’s advice if any of the early-stage symptoms or complications are noticed.
In Delhi, NCR, and Ghaziabad, a lot of experienced and renowned physicians are available for consultation in such cases at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar.
Precautions and preventive measures to stop the spread of typhoid fever
Being a bacterial infection, typhoid can be effectively treated at the earlier stages with the help of antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin or Azithromycin, etc. However, with typhoid becoming resistant to some of these antibiotics, its treatment is no longer that easy. Clinically, vaccination is the best measure to reduce the risk of typhoid. Before travelling to a typhoid-prone area or at the start of the monsoon season, get vaccinated against typhoid. This can be taken either orally (4 tablets, taken every second day) or through injection (two weeks before the time of travel). Though vaccination doesn’t provide full immunity against the disease, it does prevent it from getting worse. However, vaccination is a short-term measure and has to be performed repeatedly. Sometimes, vaccines may have severe side effects as well.
Hence, it is better to protect oneself from getting infected with the disease by following some of the following preventive measures or guidelines. These are the following:
Frequent hand washing
Washing hands with soap before and after every meal and after using the toilet is the best way to keep typhoid at bay.
Safe drinking water
Drinking contaminated water is the primary cause of typhoid outbreaks. Therefore, one should drink only bottled or canned water and canned beverages such as wine, beer, and cold drinks in place of loose juices and soft drinks from street vendors. Always try to carry your own water bottle while travelling. If bottled water is unavailable, make sure you boil the water for one minute or so before consuming it.
Avoid eating raw & street food
Don’t eat raw fruits and vegetables that can’t be peeled outside the house, as they may have been washed in contaminated water and can lead to typhoid. One should also avoid food from street vendors and stalls, as they are more likely to be infected.
Avoid using public toilets
As typhoid is generally spread through infected stools, one should be very careful while using a public toilet, or just avoid using it. Make sure you wash your hands properly after using a public restroom.
One should not have oral or anal sex with a person who has typhoid or has recently recovered from it.
Make sure to clean your toilet and house with disinfectants on a regular basis. Water tanks and purifiers should also be cleaned to prevent the growth of bacteria and other germs.
Avoid contact with the infected person:
One should avoid any physical contact with an infected person to prevent typhoid. If you come into contact with an infected person, wash your hands right away.
All these measures will help safeguard you against typhoid. However, if you or someone you know contracts the disease seek medical attention immediately rather than ignoring or self-treating the symptoms. Book an appointment at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad, for the best typhoid treatment, or take teleconsultation from us in case you cannot come.
Dr. Saurabh Gupta
Dr Saurabh Gupta is Head of Department and a senior consultant of Internal Medicine at our esteemed hospital. He has an experience of over 16 years in the medical field during which he has worked with Hindu Rao Hospital and Primus Hospital . He pursued his MBBS from the reputed University Of Mumbai , which he completed in 2003. Dr. Gupta is celebrated in his field and specializes in Diabetes, Immune system disorders, chest and allergies, and tropical diseases.
Dr. Jalaj Dixit
Dr. Jalaj Dixit is a highly skilled typhoid specialist with extensive experience in the field of infectious diseases. He is currently affiliated with Yashoda Hospital in Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad (Delhi NCR), where he serves as a Consultant in the Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. Dixit has a strong background in diagnosing and treating various types of infectious diseases, including typhoid fever. He has a keen interest in providing personalized care to his patients and takes a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. With his vast knowledge and expertise in the field, Dr. Dixit has helped numerous patients recover from typhoid fever and other infectious diseases. He is known for his compassionate approach to patient care and his dedication to staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in his field.