What is typhoid fever?

The best treatment for typhoid fever is antibiotics. However, some strains of typhoid fever have become resistant to antibiotics.
The best treatment for typhoid fever is antibiotics. However, some strains of typhoid fever have become resistant to antibiotics.

Typhoid fever is a serious bacterial infection caused by the Salmonella typhi bacterium. A similar infection called paratyphoid fever is caused by the Salmonella paratyphi bacterium.

Symptoms of typhoid fever

The most common symptoms of typhoid fever are diarrhea and a high fever that doesn't go away. Your fever may be as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius.

Other symptoms include:

Causes of typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is only caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. The typhoid bacteria multiply and spread through contaminated food and water. After you are infected, it can take one to three weeks for symptoms to start.

Some people become carriers of typhoid and shed the bacteria in their feces for years after they were first infected.

In fact, people who work in certain professions must have negative stool tests following their typhoid infection before they can legally return to work. This includes:

  • Childcare workers
  • Anyone who handles food
  • Healthcare workers

Those who have had typhoid fever can get it again if they are re-exposed to the bacteria.

When travelling abroad in areas where typhoid fever is common, be sure to get vaccinated. To further lower the risk of contracting the disease:

  • Drink only sealed, bottled, or treated water
  • Don't eat raw fruits and vegetables
  • Don't eat foods from street vendors

Who can get typhoid fever?

Anyone can get typhoid fever. However, this bacterium is not common in industrialized countries. It is more common in developing countries. Many cases in industrialized nations are brought back from travelers to other areas.

Vaccines are available for people traveling abroad to areas with a higher risk of contracting typhoid fever.

Diagnosis for typhoid fever

Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose typhoid fever. The only way for your doctor to diagnose typhoid fever is through a blood or stool test to verify the presence of the bacteria.

Your doctor will give you this test if you have symptoms of typhoid fever or were exposed to someone who recently had the infection.

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Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day. See Answer

Treatments for typhoid fever

Medications

Doctors treat typhoid fever with antibiotics. However, in some parts of the world strains of typhoid fever have become resistant to most antibiotics. Doctors and researchers must continually track which antibiotics continue to offer effective treatment.

Home care

Dehydration from diarrhea is common with typhoid fever. So, you need to drink plenty of water and beverages with electrolytes. Your doctor may give you electrolyte packets to help with this.

If your condition worsens and you have to go to the hospital, doctors may give you intravenous (IV) hydration.

Complications and side effects of typhoid fever

Some people have allergic reactions to certain antibiotics. With antibiotic resistant strains, there may only be a few options for treatment.

If you are allergic to these antibiotics, it may be rather difficult to find effective medicine that you can take safely.

However, the main risk with typhoid fever is not receiving any medical treatment. One out of five people who don’t get treatment for typhoid fever die.

The risk of complications also grows if the treatment is delayed. Complications that can develop in untreated cases of typhoid fever include:

For this reason, if you have symptoms of typhoid fever, you should seek immediate medical attention. This is especially true if you have recently traveled to an area where there is a higher risk of contracting the disease.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/3/2021
References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Typhoid Fever and Paratyphoid Fever."

Cureus: "The Implications of Extensive Drug-resistant Typhoid Fever: A Case Report."

Mayo Clinic: "Typhoid fever."

New York State Department of Health: "Typhoid Fever."