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Typhoid Fever

What is Typhoid Fever?

Typhoid Fever is an infection caused by the bacterial Salmonella typhi. This germ affects the intestinal tract and blood stream.

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What are the signs and symptoms of Typhoid Fever?

  • High fever (103º – 104ºF)
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation (very common)
  • Loss of appetite and severe weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Rash with flat rose-colored spots on people with pale skin

Some persons do not show any signs or symptoms and are called carriers.

How is Typhoid Fever spread?

You can get typhoid Fever if you eat food or drink liquids that have been contaminated by feces or urine from a person shedding the germ. If sewage containing the germ enters water used for drinking or washing food, the germ will spread.

In areas with poor sewage disposal and among people with poor hand washing, the germ is commonly spread by contaminated water and food which results in typhoid Fever. In urban areas, the typhoid fever occurs mostly through food contaminated by carriers who handle food without properly washing their hands.

How can Typhoid Fever be treated?

• Antibiotics

• Fluid replacement for the fever and diarrhea

• Small, frequent, high calorie (energy) meals

• Blood replacement if there is bleeding in stool (feces).

How can you protect yourself from Typhoid Fever?

Please go through the below to protect yourself from typhoid:

  • Wash your hands with soap FIRST for at least 20 seconds.
  • Buy bottled water, but if you use tap water, bring it to a rolling boil for 1 minute before you drink it. Bottled carbonated water is safer than un carbonated water.
  • Ask for drinks without ice unless the ice is made from bottled or boiled water. Avoid Popsicles and flavored ices that may have been made with contaminated water.
  • Eat foods that have been well cooked and that are still hot and steaming.
  • Avoid raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled. Vegetables like lettuce are easily contaminated and are very hard to wash well.
  • Fruit and vegetables that can be peeled are safer than those that cannot be peeled. Peel them yourself and do not eat the peelings.
  • Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors. It is difficult for food to be kept clean on the street, and many travelers get sick from food bought from street vendors.

Remember this advice when you travel to avoid typhoid: “Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!”

Typhoid fever Tests and diagnosis:

When you affected with typhoid fever your medical professional will conduct a thorough physical examination to look out for the symptoms of typhoid and based on it the clinical tests required for typhoid fever will be recommended to undergo. Also, a detailed travel as well as medical history will be conducted by your doctor to assess your exposure to the typhoid fever.

Tests which will be recommended to undergo during typhoid fever:

CBC – If you are suffering from the disease, your complete blood count will show an increased white blood cell (WBC) count.

Blood culture – Blood culture done during the initial phase of the disease (in the first week).

ELISA – A recent diagnostic test, ELISA urine test is done to look out for the bacteria causing the disease.

Fluorescent antibody study – In this study, any substances that are specific to the bacterium are looked for.

Platelet Count – Platelet count in case of the person affected by the disease is usually low.

Stool culture – It is done to determine the presence of the bacterium in the feces.

Complications of typhoid

Possible complications that may result when the person diagnosed with typhoid fever –

  • Kidney failure
  • Severe GI bleeding
  • Intestinal perforation
  • Peritonitis

Typhoid Prevention

Typhoid can be easily prevented by following some simple tips –

  • Ensuring proper hygiene and sanitation will definitely shield you against getting infected by the typhoid bacteria.
  • Persistent hand washing to keep the bacteria at bay.
  • Careful preparation of food as the bacteria spreads with feces coming in contact with drinking water and food.
  • Consume hot and fresh foods as high temperature hinders the growth of bacteria.
  • Avoid eating raw veggies and fruits & also drinking untreated or contaminated water.
  • Keep all your household items (especially in the kitchen) properly clean and sanitized.
  • In case you are travelling to any part of the world that put you at high risk of getting infected with typhoid then vaccination is the best option available.

What Should I Eat During Typhoid?

Generally during typhoid fever, a bland diet, which is smooth and soothing, is preferred. Diet during typhoid should be given close attention, as it is an important part of the treatment. Gastrointestinal discomforts are common in typhoid; so care should be taken while cooking food and also choosing foods that are easy to digest during typhoid.

Though bland, the diet should be nutritionally adequate to meet daily calorie requirements of the body. The body’s basal metabolic rate is 10% high during typhoid fever, which means that more tissue is being broken down to give energy. So the diet given during typhoid should provide sufficient proteins, meet the nutrient requirement of the body and maintain a water and electrolyte balance. This is mainly to avoid irritation to the mucus membrane, to reduce gastric acidity, which would further inflame the gastrointestinal tract during typhoid fever.

Progressive Diet Plan during typhoid fever

A progressive diet from a liquid diet to a normal diet depending on the level of tolerance would help the person’s appetite during typhoid.

  • Fluids in the form of tender coconut water, barley water, electrolyte fortified water, fresh fruit juice, vegetable soup, buttermilk and water should be consumed until body temperature comes back to normal.
  • To begin with, consume liquid diet for a few days and then gradually take fruits like bananas, cantaloupes, watermelons, grapes, peaches, and apricots. It is better if solid food is avoided unless the person feels very hungry.
  • As the person’s appetite gets better, semi-solid foods should be given during typhoid. Boiled rice, baked potato, soft-boiled or poached eggs, baked apple, yoghurt, vegetable soup can be given.
  • When you are free from the typhoid fever, fruits, boiled vegetables and unrefined foods like unpolished rice and white bread can be included.
  • A typhoid recovery diet plan should include yogurt and eggs, as they are easier to digest than meat and provide adequate protein. For vegetarians, lentils, legumes and cottage cheese, meet the protein needs.

Foods to Avoid During Typhoid

Dietary precautions during treatment of typhoid fever make sure that the disease does not aggravate. It helps you ease from the discomforts of the typhoid fever.

  • Avoid high fiber foods during typhoid: Intake of whole grain cereals and their products like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and raw vegetables in the form of salads, are rich in fiber. It can add on the stress on your digestive system.
  • Avoid vegetables like cabbage, capsicum and turnip as these can cause bloating and gas during the typhoid fever.
  • Stay away from oily foods, spices and seasonings like pepper, cayenne and chilli powder to make sure that the digestive tract does not inflame all the more.

Diet Tips during typhoid:

  • Drink boiled water and keep your body hydrated when you affected with typhoid.
  • Consume 3 – 4 liters of fluids in the form of water, fruit juices, tender coconut water and soup.
  • Eat small frequent meals rather than large meals to ease digestion and for maximum nutrient utilization by the body.
  • Try not to include spices as much as possible till the typhoid recovers.
  • Slowly introduce protein in your diet in the form of eggs, yoghurt and boiled fish; depending on your tolerance level, increase the portion size.