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Typhoid

What is typhoid?

Typhoid (also called typhoid fever) is a life-threatening disease caused by bacteria. It is usually spread through food or water contaminated with bowel movement from an infected person. It can also be spread through close contact with an infected person.

What are the signs and symptoms of typhoid?

Signs and symptoms start 6 to 30 days after infection and develop in stages over about 3 weeks:

  • Fever of 103°F to 104°F (39°C to 40°C) that gets worse later in the day
  • A cough or sore throat
  • Weakness, fatigue, or a headache
  • Skin rash that has flat, red spots
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your groin
  • Stomach pain or loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation, rapid weight loss, and distention of your abdomen
  • Delirium (confusion and lack of awareness) or hallucinations
  • Lying motionless with your eyes half open

How is typhoid diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and when they started. Tell him about any recent travels. Tell him the countries you visited, when you went, and how long you stayed. Also tell him about food you ate and any untreated water you drank.

  • Blood may be tested for antibodies. If you are infected, antibodies will be produced by your body to fight the bacteria.
  • A bowel movement sample is tested for the bacteria that cause typhoid.
  • A bone marrow sample is tested for the bacteria that cause typhoid. This test is usually best at finding the bacteria. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about this test.
  • Antibiotics are given to fight a bacterial infection. It is important to take all of the antibiotics to make sure the infection is treated completely. Your healthcare provider will get bowel movement samples over time to check that treatment is working.

What can I do to manage typhoid?

Signs and symptoms may start to get better about 4 weeks after they start. You may still be infected even after treatment. This means you can pass the infection to others. Ask your healthcare provider about these and other ways to prevent spreading the bacteria until the infection is gone:

  • Ask about going back to work. Your healthcare provider may need to verify that you are no longer infected before you can work. He may need to do this if you handle food or work in certain care facilities.
  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom or change a baby's diaper. Wash before you eat. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer gel. Rub it in until it dries.
  • Do not cook or serve food to anyone. Your risk for spreading the bacteria will increase if someone eats food you handled.
  • Clean items in your house at least every day. Ask your healthcare provider what to use when you clean. Clean all toilets, door handles, and other items you touch regularly. Dry with paper towels or disposable cloths.
  • Do not share towels or similar items. Use specific towels, sheets, and eating utensils or cups. Do not let anyone else use these items. Wash the items often. Use soap and hot water. If any item is soiled, soak it in disinfectant solution before you wash it.

What can I do to prevent typhoid?

  • Ask about the typhoid vaccine. You can get the vaccine before you travel to a country where typhoid is common. Your healthcare provider will tell you when to get the vaccine and which vaccine you need. Even after you receive the vaccine, you will need to be careful about foods and drinks while you travel. You can still get typhoid even after you receive the vaccine.
  • Choose foods carefully when you travel. Do not eat food from street vendors. Refrigerate food, and only have pasteurized milk or dairy products. Do not eat raw fruits or vegetables. Peel fruits and vegetables. Do not eat the peelings. Always cook all food thoroughly, and eat food that is steaming hot.
  • Find safe water when you travel. Only drink water that has been treated. Ask for no ice in your drink, or only have ice made from treated water. Drink bottled water instead of tap water. You can also boil water for 1 minute before you drink it. Carbonated drinks are safer than drinks that are not carbonated.

What are the risks of typhoid?

  • You may have heavy bleeding in your intestines. You may develop perforation (holes) in your intestines. You can develop an infection in the lining around your heart or brain. Your pancreas may also become inflamed. You may develop infections in your kidneys or bladder. You may have delirium (confusion or disorientation) or hallucinations. You may develop sepsis (blood infection).
  • You may continue to be a carrier even after treatment. This means you still have the bacteria that cause typhoid in your system. Your symptoms may come back if you are a carrier. You can also infect other people.

You or someone else should call 911 if:

  • You are not responsive or have severe confusion or disorientation.
  • Your infant has a fever, diarrhea, or is not responsive.
  • You have hallucinations or are confused and disoriented.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your infant has sunken fontanels (soft spots), no tears when he cries, or fewer wet diapers than usual.
  • Your blood pressure suddenly goes very low, you are dizzy, and you see blood in your bowel movement.
  • You have severe abdominal pain and nausea, and you are vomiting.
  • You have severe diarrhea.
  • You are urinating little or not at all.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have constipation.
  • Your child is fussy or has feeding problems.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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