What Is Typhoid Fever?
Typhoid fever is basically acquired through the ingestion of food and water that is contaminated by a certain bacteria. It so happens that patients with acute illnesses can contaminate surrounding water supplies with their stool, or rather through their stool, which is consistent of a high concentration of the bacteria. This contamination of the water supply has the effect of consequentially contaminating the food supply. Due to this contaminated food supply, 3-5% of the people become carriers of the bacteria, however some face a very mild illness that can possibly go unrecognized. The catch here is that these patients eventually become long-term carriers of the bacteria and this bacterium then multiplies in the bile duct, gall bladder or the liver and moves into the stool. It is these chronic carriers that can be the source of new outbreaks of typhoid fever for many years, without displaying much of any symptoms.
Causes of Typhoid Fever
The contaminated food and water is consistent of the bacteria, ‘salmonella’, which after ingestion reaches the small intestine and invades it. After invading the small intestine, the bacterium enters the blood stream on a temporary basis. This bacterium is then carried forward into the liver, spleen and the bone marrow via white blood cells. After reaching these organs, the bacterium multiplies even further and re-enters the blood stream, and this is where the symptoms of the fever begin to show. The cycle moves forward and the bacteria invades the biliary system, the lymphatic bowel tissue and the gall bladder, where they once again multiply, this time in much higher numbers. The bacteria are then passed on to the intestinal tract where they can be identified for diagnosis through cultures from the stool when tested in a lab. Stool cultures should be supplemented with blood cultures in order to make a confirmed diagnosis of the disease.
Symptoms of Typhoid Fever
The symptoms of typhoid fever are usually very typical and include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Fever up to sometimes 104 F
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Intestinal bleeding or perforation
- Chest congestion
Treatment of Typhoid Fever
There is no set treatment for typhoid fever itself except for a course of anti-biotics that helps in subsiding the fever and killing the bacteria infecting the body. However, some treatment measures can be taken to treat the individual symptoms of typhoid fever. These treatment measures include:
- Complete bed rest to help with the head aches and feelings of lethargy
- Patients should be kept on a diet consistent of liquids in order to provide them with the necessary nutrition while keeping the nausea and vomiting to a minimal
- After the fever subsides, easily digestible foods and fruits can be consumed
- If the taste of the mouth is constantly bitter, unsweetened lemon juice can be used for drinking
- It is very important to gradually start a well-balanced diet, as during typhoid patients tend to lose a lot of weight as the lethargy, fever, nausea and vomiting and of course the infection itself prevents the individual form not eating much at all. Hence, it is extremely important that the patient is fed adequately regardless of the symptoms.