Typhoid Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Typhoid fever, also known as typhus is a disease caused by Salmonella typhi bacterial infection. Typhoid fever itself spreads through contaminated food and water or through close contact with an infected person. Check out the full explanation of the causes of typhus, typhoid symptoms, and typhoid drugs below.

Causes of Typhoid Fever

Keep in mind that the bacteria that cause typhus are in water or food which then spreads to other people through food or beverage channels that are contaminated with bacteria.

Someone infected with typhus or typhoid can contaminate the surrounding water supply through feces that contain high concentrations of bacteria that cause typhus. Contamination of water supplies will in turn pollute food supplies. Bacteria can survive for weeks in water or dry waste.

About 3-5 percent of people become carriers of bacteria after being infected which is the cause of typhoid fever. While other people who are infected are able to suffer from a disease that is very mild and does not even seem sick. These people can become long-term bacterial transmitters who are commonly called typhoid carrier sufferers. Although they have no symptoms of typhus and have been a source of new outbreaks of typhoid fever for years.

Symptoms of Typhoid (Typhoid Fever)

The incubation period for typhoid symptoms or typhoid fever is usually 1-2 weeks with a disease duration of about 3-4 weeks. The two main symptoms of mild typhus are fever and rash. The rash that affects the patient consists of red spots, especially on the neck and stomach. Other symptoms of typhus include:

  • Poor appetite.
  • Headache.
  • Aches and pains throughout the body.
  • Fever up to 40 degrees Celsius.
  • Sluggish.
  • Diarrhea.

Chest tightness and stomach pain are typical symptoms of typhus in many people. About 10% of people who have recurrent typhoid symptoms will feel better after one to two weeks. Recurrence is actually more common in those who are treated with antibiotics.

If the disease is not treated seriously, typhoid symptoms will continue to get worse for weeks and the risk of developing potentially fatal complications will increase.

Diagnosis of Typhoid Fever

After swallowing contaminated food or water, Salmonella bacteria invade the small intestine and enter the bloodstream temporarily. White blood cells carry bacteria to the liver, spleen and bone marrow. Then the bacteria multiply in the cells of these organs and enter the bloodstream.

Your doctor may suspect typhoid fever based on typhoid symptoms and medical history. However, the diagnosis is usually confirmed by identifying Salmonella typhi in blood cultures or other body fluids or tissues.

A small sample of your blood, feces, urine or bone marrow is placed in a special medium that encourages bacterial growth, then examined under a microscope to detect the presence of typhoid bacteria. A bone marrow examination is often the most sensitive test for Salmonella typhi.

Although doing some of the tests above is the best way to diagnose typhoid symptoms, there are other tests that can be used to confirm suspected typhoid fever infections, such as tests to detect antibodies against typhoid bacteria in the blood or tests that check typhoid DNA in the blood.

Complications of Typhoid Fever

Complications caused by typhoid fever usually only occur in people who have not been treated with appropriate antibiotics or are not treated immediately when typhoid symptoms appear.

There are two of the most common complications of typhoid fever if it does not get treated immediately, including:

1. Internal Bleeding in the Digestive System

Most internal bleeding that occurs in typhoid fever is not life-threatening, but this condition can make you feel very unwell.

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired all the time.
  • Hard to breathe.
  • Pale skin.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Vomiting blood.
  • Very dark colored stools.

Blood transfusion may be needed to replace lost blood, and surgery can be used to improve the location of bleeding.

2. Perforation

Perforation has the potential to be a very serious complication. This is because bacteria that live in the digestive system can move to the stomach and infect the lining of the stomach (peritoneum). This condition is known as peritonitis.

Peritonitis is an emergency because the peritoneal tissue is usually sterile (germ-free). Unlike other body parts, the peritoneum does not have an innate defense mechanism to fight infection.

In peritonitis, the infection can quickly spread into the blood (sepsis) before it spreads to other organs. This carries the risk of failure of many organs. If you do not get treatment properly, it can endanger lives.

The most common symptom of peritonitis is abdominal pain suddenly and gets worse over time.

Typhus Treatment

The only effective tipes medicine is antibiotics. The most commonly used antibiotics are ciprofloxacin (for non-pregnant adults) and ceftriaxone. Besides antibiotics, it is important to rehydrate by drinking enough water. In more severe cases where the intestine has been perforated, surgery may be needed.

Like a number of other bacterial diseases, there are currently concerns about increasing antibiotic resistance to S. typhi. This condition affects the choice of drugs available to treat typhoid symptoms.

In recent years, typhus has become resistant to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and ampicillin. In fact, ciprofloxacin also experiences the same problem. Several studies have found Salmonella typhimurium resistance levels around 35 percent.

Prevention of Typhoid Fever

An area with limited access to clean water usually has a higher number of typhoid fever cases.

Here are some precautions that can be done, including:

1. Vaccination

Before traveling to high risk areas, you are advised to get a vaccine. Vaccines can be by oral medication or injections. Also note that the vaccine is not 100 percent effective in preventing typhus, maintaining the cleanliness of the food and drinks consumed must still be done

Vaccination should not be started if the individual is sick or under 6 years old. This vaccine might have an adverse effect, because 1 in 100 people will have a fever. As for oral vaccines, problems that can arise such as nausea, and headaches. However, severe side effects are rare in both vaccines.

2. Avoiding infection

Minimizing the possibility of typhoid infection can be done by:

  • Drink bottled water or if bottled water is not available, you can boil water for at least one minute before consumption.
  • Avoid eating at places where cleaning is poor.
  • Avoid consuming ice cubes made from raw water.
  • Avoid raw vegetables.
  • Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cutlery with sick people.

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