If you have a persistent fever that is as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit accompanied by diarrhea, poor appetite, and lethargy, it could be typhoid fever. The fever is caused by Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi bacteria. This acute illness is most common in the Indian subcontinent, South-east Asia, Africa, and South America. Typhoid fever can be diagnosed by analyzing stools, urine, and blood samples of the affected person.
Typhoid fever, though can be controlled with antibiotic treatment, is a serious health threat, especially for children. It is a communicable disease that spreads through contaminated food and water. So, it is important to avoid close contact with an affected person. Typhoid vaccines fever are available but are partially effective in combating the illness.
Symptoms of Typhoid
Signs and symptoms of typhoid fever develop gradually, usually takes up to three weeks after exposure to the bacteria causing the disease. During the early stages, typhoid fever is characterized by the following thyroid symptoms:
- Persistent fever that increases to 104.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fatigue and weakness
- General muscle aches and pain
- Dry cough
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Skin Rashes
- Swollen abdomen
With the right diagnosis and proper treatment, the typhoid fever symptoms should subside within 3 to 5 days. If not treated at the right time, the symptoms worsen and may even cause life-threatening complications. In the later stages of the treatment, a person may become:
- Lie motionless and look exhausted with half-closed eyes
In some people, adverse signs and symptoms may appear weeks after the fever has subsided.
Causes of Typhoid Fever
Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi bacteria, which is related to the bacteria that cause food poisoning. The Salmonella Typhi bacteria is passed out through the stools and urine of a person. If the infected person does not wash his/her hands properly after they have been to the washroom, the bacteria spreads easily and contaminate everything they touch, including food. When anyone else eats the contaminated food, he/she gets affected. Infected human waste also contaminates the water supply of an area, thereby spreading the disease at a faster pace. Some of the thyphoid causes or ways you can get affected are:
- Using public toilet contaminated with the bacteria
- Not washing hands properly before eating anything
- Consuming seafood from a contaminated water source
- Eating raw vegetables fertilized with contaminated wastes
- Eating contaminated milk products
- Having unprotected anal or oral sex with a carrier of Salmonella Typhi bacteria
Who is a carrier of typhoid fever bacteria?
People who survive typhoid fever without being treated properly become the carriers. This basically means the bacteria continue to live in the carrier’s body without causing any noticeable symptoms of the condition. However, the bacteria spreads normally through stool and urine.
Complications of Typhoid Fever
The most potent complication of typhoid fever is intestinal perforations and bleeding. Other complications that require immediate medical attention are:
- Myocarditis or heart muscle inflammation
- Endocarditis or inflammation in the heart lining and valves
- Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas
- Kidney infections
- Delirium, hallucinations, and paranoid psychosis
Without proper treatment patients of typhoid fever may not survive the complications.
Typhoid Treatment & Diagnosis
Your GP is most likely to suspect typhoid fever based on your symptoms. He/she might also note your travel and medical history. The diagnosis of the illness is primarily clinical. Any diagnosis is confirmed by the identification of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi bacteria in the culture of your blood samples, tissue like bone marrow, or any body fluid. If typhoid fever is confirmed, other family members also may need to be tested in case the infection is also passed on to them.
Typhoid fever or enteric fever may be treated successfully with a course of antibiotics. Most of the cases can be treated at home if the condition is not severe. It is very important to finish the course of antibiotics to ensure that the bacteria are completely removed.
Along with proper medications, a patient may need to take typhoid diet like drink plenty of fluids, and eat regular, healthy meals with plenty of rest. It is also important to maintain good personal hygiene. Remember to contact your GP as soon as you notice new symptoms or the prevailing symptoms get worse. Hospital admission is recommended if severe symptoms of typhoid fever occur.
Test Results of Typhoid Fever
The Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi bacteria is the major cause of approximately 16.6 million infections each year. With properly trained technical professionals and quality laboratory equipments, isolation of the bacteria causing typhoid fever is possible. The most popular typhoid test is helpful to make a presumptive diagnosis of typhoid fever or enteric fever. As per WHO, due to various factors influencing the results of the Widal tests for typhoid fever causing bacteria, it is not too much reliable for diagnosis. However, it is an inexpensive, simple, and quick test to perform. Generally, the cost of typhoid test starts from Rs.230 at SRL Diagnostics centre in India.