Typhoid is a serious condition that can have fatal consequences. This disease is mostly prevalent in the developing countries and is caused by a bacteria known as Salmonella typhi. These bacteria can live in people who are infected and may be passed on through their stools or urine. You can catch typhoid by having food or water that’s contaminated with infected fecal matter or urine or by directly coming in contact with an infected person, say if they touch you with contaminated hands.
If you’re traveling in parts of the world where typhoid is common, it’s important to acquaint yourself with the symptoms so you can identify and treat it as soon as possible. The symptoms of typhoid typically develop about one to two weeks after you’re infected with Salmonella typhi. Let’s take a look at some of the signs that point to this disease1 2 3:
Typhoid fever begins slowly but worsens in a few days, with the temperature peaking at around 103–104° F. It stays high for 10–14 days and then goes back to normal around the fourth week after the symptoms first started.
Headaches can also be a warning sign of typhoid. Usually, it’s the forehead that’s affected and the pain feels like a “tight band.” But some people also experience a splitting, bursting, or throbbing headache.
3. Muscle Aches
While many conditions can cause your muscles to ache, look out for muscle aches that occur in combination with other signs listed here. General body pain is also common with typhoid.
4. Constipation And Diarrhea
Both constipation and diarrhea are symptoms of typhoid. You may get constipation at first and develop diarrhea after about 2 weeks. Adults may be more prone to constipation while children may have diarrhea frequently – bowel movements may go up to 8 times a day. The diarrhea that occurs with typhoid results in thin, yellowish green stool and is often called “pea soup” diarrhea because of its appearance. In most cases, the infected person will not be able to control the diarrhea.
5. Gastrointestinal Problems
In addition to constipation and diarrhea, other gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain in your abdomen can also be indicative of typhoid. Abdominal pain may be generalized and mild to moderate in severity during the first week. Some people may experience severe pain, though.
The pain may also become more localized, concentrated around the right lower part of your stomach, during the second week. 4
A rash of small, flat, pink spots is another symptom of typhoid. This rash develops on the abdomen and chest and is seen in about 10–20% of people who get typhoid.
7. Fatigue And Exhaustion
We all normally feel the need for rest after exerting ourselves physically, experiencing stress, or dealing with sleep deprivation. But if you feel fatigued constantly or after activities that did not previously tire you out, it can be a cause for concern. People with typhoid can sometimes feel so exhausted that engaging in any activity becomes difficult.5 6
8. Changes To Your Mental State
Typhoid can cause many changes to your mental state. You may experience:
- Confusion and delirium
- Attention problems
These can manifest as a feeling of disorientation and confusion where you can’t think clearly, are unable to pay attention, or don’t know where you are or what time it is. You may also see or hear things that are not there. Some people ramble incoherently, mutter, or start nervously. They may also pick at their nose, finger, bedclothes, or imaginary objects.
9. Internal Bleeding
Some people with typhoid, usually those who haven’t received treatment for this condition, can experience complications like internal bleeding in their digestive system or perforation in a part of the digestive system.7
Internal bleeding caused by typhoid isn’t usually fatal. But it can cause:
- A feeling of constant tiredness
- Pale skin
- An irregular heartbeat
- The passing of stools with blood, making them appear tarry and dark
- The vomiting of blood
If you have internal bleeding, you may require surgery to repair the damage as well as a blood transfusion to replace blood.
10. Intestinal Perforation
Perforation or a hole in your intestines can cause serious issues. Bacteria from your digestive system can shift into your abdomen and infect the abdominal lining. This condition is known as peritonitis. It’s a medical emergency because, unlike other organs such as your skin, your abdominal lining is defenseless against infection. Therefore, the infection can quickly spread into your bloodstream and then go on to infect other organs. This may eventually result in multiple organ failure. Some signs of this condition include:
- Abdominal pain that starts suddenly and becomes very intense
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Fever and chills
- Rapid heartbeat
- Not urinating or passing less urine
- Swollen abdomen8
Run Tests To Differentiate Between Typhoid And Malaria
Malaria and typhoid share many symptoms in common like fever, vomiting, headache, muscle pains, and diarrhea. This can make it difficult to differentiate between the two based on symptoms alone. A quick blood test can confirm whether you have malaria while tests done on your stool, urine, or blood may be used to diagnose typhoid.9
|↑1||Fisher. Charles. Diseases of Children. B. Jain Publishers, 1900.|
|↑2||Typhoid Fever. Merck Manual.|
|↑3||Typhoid fever – Symptoms. National Health Service.|
|↑4||Khosla, S. N. Typhoid Feverits Cause, Transmission And Prevention. Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2008.|
|↑5||Fatigue. Merck Manual.|
|↑6||Stupor and Coma. Merck Manual.|
|↑7||Typhoid fever – Complications. National Health Service.|
|↑8||Symptoms of peritonitis. National Health Service.|
|↑9||Malaria – Symptoms. National Health Service.|