Typhoid fever is a disease that can be transmitted through food and drink by individuals suffering from typhoid. Generally, this disease is associated with a lack of hygiene and can easily infect children. This is because children’s immunity is not yet fully developed, so as parents, they are obligated to maintain a clean environment and ensure clean food. Additionally, adults can contract this disease when using public toilets that have been contaminated with the bacteria that cause typhoid.
Symptoms of Typhoid Fever
Symptoms experienced when suffering from typhoid fever include headaches and a high fever that increases each day. The high fever typically ranges from around 39 to 40 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, other symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, and muscle aches. Additionally, the abdomen may swell, and red spots may appear on the skin of those afflicted by this disease.
One key difference between typhoid fever and typhus is the type of bacteria that infect the body. In the case of typhoid, three types of bacteria can cause this disease. The first is murine typhus. In contrast, typhus and scrub typhus epidemics typically result from insects or animals. Lastly, the symptoms of typhoid sufferers may persist for 10 days to 2 weeks.
Causes of Typhoid Fever Symptoms
The primary cause of typhoid fever is the bacterium Salmonella Typhi, which infects the intestinal tract. This bacterium is typically found in raw meat, poultry, and seafood. This can occur when the process of cutting meat is not clean, allowing bacterial contamination to take place. Similarly, seafood can become contaminated by water mixed with this bacterium.
The spread of Salmonella Typhi can also occur through the feces and urine of typhoid sufferers. The incubation period for these bacteria is several hours to 2 days. In fact, the risk of transmitting this infection can be associated with long-distance travel. It can result from poor sanitation or people raising animals, including birds.
Typhoid Fever Diagnosis
To diagnose typhoid fever in a patient, several tests are required, including a blood test. Additionally, it can also be detected through urine and feces. However, to confirm the presence of Salmonella Typhi bacteria, a bone marrow aspiration test can be conducted. Nevertheless, doctors generally perform this test infrequently because it involves taking a bone marrow sample using a specialized syringe.
Another test that doctors can use is the Widal test to detect antibodies against Salmonella Typhi bacteria. However, in regions with a fairly high endemic level, a positive antibody test result typically requires a titer of 1/320 or higher. This Widal test can be repeated 5 days or 7 days after the initial test. Furthermore, a positive test result can be obtained even if the individual doesn’t exhibit symptoms of typhoid fever.
How to Prevent Typhoid Fever
Preventing Typhoid Fever is crucial for maintaining our health and stopping the spread of this disease. To achieve this goal, you can implement simple yet effective preventive measures in your daily life. First and foremost, pay close attention to personal hygiene.
1. Wash Your Hands Frequently
To prevent contracting typhoid fever, it’s essential to wash your hands frequently. The correct way to wash your hands is to wet your palms under running water and use soap. Position both palms at mid-arm level and rub the backs of your hands. Don’t forget to clean between your fingers, palms, and wrists, and then wipe them dry with a tissue.
Make it a habit to wash your hands with soap regularly, especially before eating and after using the toilet. It’s also important to clean fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them. Additionally, ensure that the drinking water you use is clean or has undergone proper filtration to prevent contamination by the Salmonella Typhi bacteria, which causes typhoid fever.
2. Avoid Consuming Raw Fruits and Vegetables Without Washing Them First
Furthermore, avoid consuming raw fruits or vegetables without washing them thoroughly. In addition to removing dirt and dust, washing these foods helps eliminate pesticide residues. To clean fruits and vegetables, you can use a mixture of water and salt, soak them for 20 minutes, and then rinse with clean water. You can also immerse them in hot water for 15 minutes to preserve the nutrients and follow it with an ice water soak.
Consider consulting a healthcare professional to determine whether you require typhoid vaccination, especially if you plan to travel to areas with a high incidence of typhoid fever. By following these steps, we can maintain our body’s health and prevent the spread of typhoid fever.
3. Ensure Drinking Water Is Boiled
In addition to hand hygiene and washing fruits and vegetables, it’s essential to ensure that the drinking water you consume is thoroughly boiled to eliminate bacteria, including Salmonella Typhi. To boil water effectively, you’ll need a pot, clean water, and a water filter. Here’s how to do it:
- Pour a sufficient amount of water into the pot.
- Place the pot on the stove and heat it over medium heat.
- Allow the water to boil for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
- Filter the water when it reaches a lukewarm temperature.
4. Avoid Undercooked Food
Another precaution is to avoid undercooked foods, such as chicken eggs. When selecting eggs, ensure that the shells are intact, without defects such as dirt, thinness, or cracks. When cooking chicken eggs, always ensure that the yolk is thoroughly cooked to a minimum temperature of 72 degrees Celsius. Keep your cooking utensils clean, and if you prefer soft-boiled eggs, consider choosing Omega eggs.
5. Reduce Random Snacking
Lastly, it’s advisable to minimize impromptu snacking, as the cleanliness of the food preparation process and ingredients is not always guaranteed. When choosing a place to eat, opt for establishments that maintain a clean cooking area and use fresh ingredients. You can also reduce snacking by either bringing your own lunch from home or consuming packaged food. When selecting packaged food, opt for items with a long shelf life and tightly sealed packaging. This helps ensure food safety and reduce the risk of contamination.
Good Foods for Treating Typhoid Fever
In addition to the preventive measures, such as avoiding undercooked or improperly stored food and being cautious about the cleanliness of food establishments, it’s important to consider dietary choices for managing typhoid fever. Vaccination also plays a role in preventing Typhoid Fever. Here, we offer recommendations for foods that are beneficial for promoting a fast recovery from typhoid fever.
1. Soft Foods
Soft foods are beneficial during the recovery period from typhoid fever. They are easier on the intestines, reducing the risk of complications such as intestinal perforation. A prime example of soft food suitable for consumption during this time is porridge or soft rice. However, make an effort to incorporate side dishes that provide added energy.
2. Foods High in Calories and Protein
Additionally, focus on foods that are rich in both protein and calories to maintain your energy levels. You can find these nutrients in fruits like bananas, as well as in starchy foods such as potatoes or pasta. This helps prevent weight loss during the course of the typhoid disease. Foods containing protein play a crucial role in promoting the repair and growth of damaged tissues, facilitating a quicker recovery.
3. Low Fiber Foods
To ensure your intestines function optimally, it’s advisable to consume foods low in fiber since they are less likely to irritate the intestines. Medical professionals often recommend choosing low-fiber fruits and vegetables, such as avocados and tomatoes. In the case of tomatoes, it’s preferable to consume them in juice form while avoiding the seeds and skin. When making tomato juice, be sure to separate the juice from the pulp so that you are left with the essence of the liquid. This approach reduces the risk of irritating your intestines during the recovery period.
4. Foods High in Carbohydrates
Another type of food that can be beneficial during the recovery from typhoid fever is one with a high carbohydrate content, such as white bread. However, it’s advisable to consume these in smaller portions. This approach helps ease the digestive process, which can be particularly important since typhoid fever sufferers often experience nausea. To mitigate this, consider changing your meal portion size to smaller, more frequent meals, such as 4 or 5 times a day. This allows you to adhere to the standard portion sizes recommended for normal daily meals (usually 3 times a day).
5. Dairy Foods
Dairy products can be part of your diet to expedite your recovery from typhoid fever. You can include dairy foods like cheese and yogurt in your diet, or opt for other processed dairy products. Additionally, consider consuming young coconut water, but aim to drink at least 6 glasses or more of plain water. This helps maintain the body’s electrolyte balance and prevents dehydration during your recovery period.
Understanding the Typhoid Vaccine
Another critical measure in the fight against typhoid fever is administering the typhoid vaccine. The vaccine is typically recommended for individuals living in close proximity to or in direct contact with typhoid patients. It’s especially crucial for children aged two to eighteen years, as well as for healthcare personnel and laboratory workers who face frequent exposure to the bacteria.
There are two primary types of typhoid fever vaccines:
1. Injectable Typhoid Vaccine
The injectable typhoid vaccine generally contains inactivated Salmonella Typhi bacteria. The purpose of this vaccine is to train the immune system to recognize the bacteria and build its defenses against actual bacterial attacks. The vaccine is administered via injection into the muscle area of the arm and is typically given once every three years.
2. Oral Typhoid Vaccine
The oral typhoid vaccine is administered in the form of medicinal tablets that are swallowed. This vaccine utilizes live but weakened Salmonella Typhi bacteria, making it safe for consumption. It’s suitable for children aged six years and older but should not be used by pregnant women. People with allergies to this type of vaccine should consult a doctor before considering it.
It’s important to note that the typhoid vaccine may cause some side effects in recipients. For instance, the injection vaccine may lead to muscle pain at the injection site. In addition, mild fever can occur, though such effects are relatively rare. In the case of the oral vaccine, individuals may experience temporary nausea and stomach discomfort after consumption. If any side effects are excessive or persist for an extended period, it’s advisable to seek immediate medical attention.
Signs of Typhoid Fever Improvement
Now, let’s explore the indicators that suggest typhoid fever is improving and recovery is on the horizon. One of the first signs you’ll notice is a decrease in fever, and there won’t be subsequent spikes in temperature. You’ll return to a normal body temperature, typically ranging between 36 to 37 degrees Celsius. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to undergo a follow-up blood test to ensure that the bacteria have completely disappeared.
Furthermore, a clear improvement is evident when the digestive tract starts functioning normally. This will manifest as your appetite returning, and you’ll be able to consume food more easily. You won’t experience excessive stomach pain that induces nausea, and you won’t have the urge to defecate excessively or suffer from diarrhea.
You’ll also regain the ability to engage in walking or standing activities without feeling dizzy or weak. This is a reflection of your body’s successful absorption of nutrients. Your complexion will become fresher, and your eyes won’t appear sunken or tired. Additionally, your tongue will no longer have a bitter taste and will return to its normal white color.
Treatment for Typhoid Fever
In cases where typhoid fever is diagnosed early and presents mild symptoms, patients can undergo independent treatment. The initial medication prescribed by the doctor will typically include antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, or azithromycin. It’s crucial to complete the full course of antibiotics, typically spanning 2 to 3 weeks. The use of these medications should be closely monitored by a doctor, and it’s important to inform them of any relevant medical history to ensure the appropriate antibiotic selection.
Additionally, fever-reducing medications may be prescribed to typhoid fever patients. These may include paracetamol, to be taken only when a fever is still present. Paracetamol comes in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and syrup. The use of paracetamol for breastfeeding mothers is generally considered safe as long as the recommended dosage is adhered to.
For individuals with severe symptoms, hospitalization may be recommended, with the administration of injections and intravenous (IV) fluids. This approach is aimed at treating and preventing dehydration. Hospitalized patients receive proper bed rest and their food intake is closely monitored to align with their specific dietary needs.
Complications of Typhoid Fever
One of the alarming aspects of typhoid fever is that without prompt treatment, it can lead to several serious complications. One of these complications is bleeding in the digestive tract, which may necessitate additional blood transfusions. In some cases, if there’s a tear in the digestive tract, surgery may be required. A tear in the digestive tract can progress to peritonitis, a potentially fatal condition.
There are other complications associated with typhoid fever, such as myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, which can result in symptoms like shortness of breath and chest pain. In severe cases, it can lead to the accumulation of blood, potentially causing additional complications like heart attacks or strokes. To mitigate the risk of these complications, it’s advisable to limit salt intake.
Finally, pneumonia is another potential complication of typhoid fever. Pneumonia is an inflammatory lung condition caused by bacterial infections. Complications can manifest with varying degrees of severity. Symptoms may include coughing up phlegm, shortness of breath, and fever. Other signs to watch for include chest pain during coughing or breathing. It’s important to be vigilant about these complications and seek prompt medical attention if they arise.