Typhoid fever, simply referred to as typhoid at times, is an ailment associated with infection of Salmonella typhi. This bacteria, which grows best at a temperature of 99°F, is transmitted by ingestion of food or water contaminated by the infected person's feces. Its symptoms range from progressive fever to enlarged spleen and liver, and play a crucial role in its preliminary diagnosis.
Although they differ from individual to individual, symptoms of typhoid fever do help in diagnosing the ailment. Based on preliminary observation, the doctor may recommend some blood tests to confirm whether the person is suffering from typhoid. Commonly observed symptoms include progressive fever, profuse sweating, diarrhea, lethargy, gastroenteritis, etc. These symptoms are known to worsen with time and thus, it is necessary to initiate its treatment at the earliest.
In the very first week, the person experiences gradual rise in body temperature, malaise, cough, headache, and bradycardia. In some cases, the patient may also experience bloody nose and abdominal pain. White blood cell count also decreases to a great extent, which, in turn, hampers the immune system. In fact, the Widal test, which is most often recommended for diagnosis of typhoid, tends to come negative in first week in most of the cases.
In the second week, the fever associated with typhoid reaches a plateau phase at 104°F and the patient continues to experience bradycardia. The patient also experiences delirium, owing to which the fever is sometimes referred to as nervous fever. In some patients, red spots start appearing on the chest and abdomen. The person may also experience diarrhea and enlarged spleen and liver. In the first two weeks, the rise in body temperature is mostly experienced in the afternoon and continues to persist throughout the night.
The third week of suffering from typhoid is marked by a series of complications, which may turn out to be fatal if treatment is not initiated. These complications include intestinal hemorrhage, encephalitis, intestinal perforation, metastatic abscesses, etc. The fever still persists, but unlike in the case of first two weeks, this time it is uninterrupted. Improvements do start occurring after the third week, but this week in itself is full of life-threatening complications and hence, the patient has to be kept under observation.
As soon as the ailment is diagnosed, treatment can be initiated in the form of antibiotics and supportive care. Antibiotic treatment ensures a significant improvement in the patient's health within a day or two, and the person recovers entirely within ten days. Supportive treatment includes administering fluids to prevent dehydration and eating a healthy diet to replenish lost nutrients. There are chances of relapse, which can be serious and thus, it is mandatory for the person to undergo a proper diagnosis process all over again as soon as its symptoms start resurfacing.
Early treatment for typhoid is important considering that the symptoms of this ailment are known to worsen with time. The best measure, however, is prevention. Some simple precautions related to personal hygiene and sanitation can ensure that the disease is always kept at bay.