Typhoid is an infection of the stomach caused by bacteria called salmonella typhi. The infection can spread throughout your body, affecting many organs. The bacteria is very contagious and passes from one person to another through pooh and pee. You can get infected when you drink or eat contaminated food or water. The major symptoms of a typhoid infection are a high body temperature (that rises from day to day), aches and pains and tiredness.
Timely treatment with antibiotics is important to prevent the disease from getting worse or even becoming life-threatening.
The main symptoms of a typhoid infection are:
- A high body temperature that increases from day to day.
- Feeling tired and weak.
- Abdominal pain.
- Difficulty poohing (constipation).
- Loose stools (diarrhea).
Some people experience a rash that is a rose colour and lasts for 3 to 5 days.
If the typhoid infection is left untreated, this may lead to internal bleeding and, in extreme cases, the bacteria may damage the intestines allowing the contents of the intestines to spill into the abdomen. This can cause a serious infection of the lining of the abdomen known as peritonitis.
Typhoid is caused by the bacteria called salmonella typhi that is commonly found in contaminated water or food. The bacteria are usually passed by an infected person through their pooh and pee.
- Typhoid fever is common in Nigeria. It is caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water sources.
- Children are most at risk of contracting typhoid, but they tend to have milder symptoms than adults.
- Eating at places with low hygiene standards (e.g. street foods).
- Drinking water or eating seafood from sources that may be polluted with sewage.
- Eating raw vegetables that have been fertilised with human pooh or eating fruits that were handled by and infected person.
- Having anal or oral sex with an infected person.
Symptoms of typhoid are similar to those of other diseases, such as malaria. Therefore, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms, it is important to visit a healthcare provider to get tested to deteremine th cause of your symptoms and to prevent developing a severe form of the disease.
You can prevent catching typhoid by doing the following:
- Preparing your own meals as you can be sure of hygiene. Wash your hands before and after preparing our meal, cook your foods (especially seafood) well, wash and boil vegetables, and peel your own fruit.
- If you do eat out, look for reviews about the place or ask for recommendations from other people.
- Drink only sachet or bottled water with NAFDAC approved seal. At home, boil your water and you can let it cool before use.
- You can get vaccinated to protect yourself against typhoid. Vaccines are available as injections or capsules.
When you are diagnosed with Typhoid, it is important to start treatment immediately and to stay at home until you feel better. Home remedies that could help you feel more comfortable while you recover are:
- Make sure that you get proper rest to conserve energy as you may feel weak and tired.
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve your fever.
- Increase your fluid intake with oral rehydration solutions (ORS) to replace fluids and to balance the accompanying electrolyte loss. Use bottled water or boiled water that has been cooled to make the ORS.
- Wash your hands regularly and continue to observe proper hand hygiene.
- Eat regular small meals to keep your energy levels up. Eating bananas is a great addition, as they help with diarrhoea and replace potassium loss.
- Your healthcare provider will recommend antibiotics. Ciprofloxacin is generally used for treating typhoid, but you may be prescribed azithromycin or ceftriaxone. You should use these medicines only when prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not self-medicate with antibiotics, as this may worsen your condition and make the medicines less effective against infections.
- Your healthcare provider may prescribe pain killers for your headaches and fever. They may also give you fluids using a drip into your veins to hydrate you.
Typhoid is often self-diagnosed and self-treated in Nigeria. This is a mistake, because typhoid shares many symptoms with other diseases. Only a test done by your healthcare provider can identify the disease properly.
Avoid self-medication for typhoid fever and do not use antibiotics unless prescribed to you by a healthcare provider. This can cause the medicine not to work as it should when needed and may make your condition worse.
If you think you may have typhoid, go to your healthcare provider immediately for test and treatment. Do not wait to avoid complications from the disease.