What is typhoid fever? Typhoid fever is a relatively common illness that children suffer from nowadays. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. One characteristic of typhoid fever that makes it really deadly is that it spreads very easily. Through food or water- the bacteria, Salmonella typhi, moves quickly. There’s so much about this illness that parents don’t know off. Did you know that there are home remedies to treat typhoid effectively? Do you know the food for typhoid patients? Do you know what to eat in typhoid? What about typhoid fever symptoms? Knowing the nitty-gritty bits makes all the difference. Hopefully, this article covers these ‘nitty-gritty’ bits effectively while also disseminating other useful information for the benefit of parents!
Table Of Contents
1. What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever is an illness that’s characterised by high fever, headaches and abnormal pain. It’s a relatively mild disease, however, in underdeveloped countries, where typhoid vaccine is rare it claims a fair percentage of lives. Hence, it’s not an illness that should be taken lightly by anyone especially when the patient is a child. It’s a highly contagious illness. Contaminated water bodies and food sources can spread the illness in a jiffy- without even causing a serious ruckus.
2. What are the causes of typhoid fever?
Salmonella typhi- the culprit behind the illness. Salmonella typhi is a negative bacteria that acts as the primary causing agent of typhoid fever. It lives and is found only in human beings. Liver, spleen & small intestine- act as the home for the Salmonella typhi. The bacteria contains two antigens: Salmonella typhi O and Salmonella typhi H. An antigen is a foreign substance which stimulates the body to produce antibodies to fight off bacteria and illnesses. Typically, the bacteria can survive in the contaminated water or food source for weeks altogether.
All this Salmonella typhi O and Salmonella typhi H sounds really confusing and don’t blame yourself if it goes straight over your head. Unless you are a doctor, of course. The causes of typhoid fever are straightforward. The illness is caused by a bacteria that enters the body through contaminated water and food to infect one’s liver, small intestine, spleen and even blood.
Interestingly, 3-5% of the sufferers are prone to become carriers of the illness. Interesting, how? The symptoms of typhoid fever may not show in the case of these individuals but they can be one of the causes of typhoid fever outbreaks in the future.
3. What are the symptoms of typhoid fever?
Having covered the causes of typhoid fever, let’s move on to the symptoms of typhoid fever. Parents have to know what are the symptoms of typhoid fever so that they can identify the disease quickly and waste no time in getting a sound diagnosis done. Good thing parents- it’s easy to identify the typhoid fever symptoms.
Once the bacteria enters the body, it will take 1-2 weeks for the first few symptoms of typhoid fever to show. The average duration of the illness is 3 weeks. Categorised as a ‘mild’ or ‘acute’ illness, it still takes considerable time for the antibodies to get rid of the bacteria.
Given below are the symptoms of typhoid fever (not in a chronological sequence):
‣ Significant reduction in appetite
‣ Relatively continuous and severe headache
‣ Extremely high fever (104 degrees Fahrenheit)
‣ A general feeling of tiredness and lethargy
‣ A relatively serious case of diarrhoea
‣ Localized body pains
‣ Possible chest congestion
Typhoid fever symptoms die down quite immediately once the treatment begins. Generally, patients report that the symptoms of typhoid die after two weeks of medication. However, typhoid fever symptoms are known to relapse. But don’t worry, that’s normal. 10% of the patients of typhoid fever suffer from recurrent symptoms of typhoid. It generally takes four weeks to be completely cured!
4. Diagnosis of typhoid fever
In order to diagnose patients with typhoid, the doctor will first ask for a blood test. If the results of the blood test are unsatisfactory, urine tests and stool tests could then be asked for.
However, in addition to these rudimentary methods, doctors use a serological test-Widal’s test- to diagnose typhoid fever. Using the method of haemagglutination, the test studies the patient’s serum and measures the antibodies titres to antigens- Salmonella typhi O and Salmonella typhi H. Salmonella typhi O is found in the cell wall while Salmonella typhi H is found in the ‘flagella’.
The significance of the test is that: Salmonella typhi O antibody is formed much before the Salmonella typhi H antibody hence, giving the doctor a clue about which stage the patient is in.
Note: Here’s all that you need to know about the Widal Test.
5. Treatment for typhoid fever
Causes of typhoid-done. Symptoms of typhoid-done. Diagnosis- done. Now, let’s take a look at ways to treat typhoid fever. The objective of the different treatment methods is to kill and eliminate the Salmonella typhi that’s living in the body.
We will break down the treatment section into three:
5.1 Home remedies for typhoid
Whether you live in an underdeveloped country or a modern economy: do not ignore the home remedies for typhoid. The remedies are extremely simple to follow. From food for typhoid patients to regular fluid intake- following these home remedies for typhoid in addition to whatever the doctor prescribes you with can quicken the recovery process significantly. Without further ado, here are some popular home remedies for typhoid:
‣ Apply cold compresses regularly. It will help bring down the high temperature that characterises typhoid.
‣ Ensure regular fluid intake. Ideally, try to drink 8-10 bottles of water in addition to fresh juices, coconut water etc.
‣ Drink a mixture of apple cider, honey & water before food for 5-7 days.‣
‣ Create a basil mixture out of basil leaves, water, ginger and honey. Drink this 2-3 times a day till the fever leaves your body.
‣ Ensure that you eat at least three bananas a day until the symptoms of typhoid subside.
‣ Drink at least two glasses of buttermilk in a day.
‣ Food for typhoid? Highly-nutritious food such as eggs, milk & high-carbohydrate foods.
Follow the home remedies for typhoid but not alone. The doctor is most probably going to prescribe you with antibiotics that will help your body kill the bacteria quickly and efficiently. Before the advent of antibiotics that treat typhoid- the mortality rate of the illness was 20%. However, today because of antibiotics that number has dropped down to 1-2%.
Doctors will prescribe you with antibiotics for a week. Patients will begin to feel better within a couple of days after the first dosage itself. The known antibiotics that are given to reduce the symptoms of typhoid are Chloramphenicol, Azithromycin, Fluoroquinolones etc.
5.3 Typhoid Vaccine
Typhoid vaccine is not a treatment method, perse. Call it a ‘pre-treatment’ measure. People who are travelling to areas where typhoid has a strong presence are advised to use a typhoid vaccine to protect them from catching the disease. Although the typhoid vaccine may not be a foolproof measure- it’s 50-80% effective which is honestly, a decent number.
‣ Who or when is one advised to take a typhoid vaccine?
‣ When travelling to a heavy typhoid fever infected area.
‣ When you are a ‘carrier’.
‣ If you are living with or in constant contact with a ‘carrier’.
‣ If your workplace exposes you to Salmonella typhi in some way or another.
Typhoid vaccine comes in two forms: Inactivated and Live.
‣ Inactivated Typhoid Vaccine: Children under the age of two cannot take the inactivated typhoid vaccine. It works as a ‘one-dose’ injection and takes nearly two weeks to kick in. People who take this form of vaccine are advised to take a booster dose once every two years.
‣ Live Typhoid Vaccine: Children under the age of six cannot take the live typhoid vaccine. It’s got more longevity to it when compared to inactivated typhoid vaccine- one booster shot every five years. It’s administered in four doses and takes nearly one week, after the last dose, to kick in.