Typhoid is a scourge of developing countries, and during the industrial revolution in the 1800s and early 1900s it wreaked havoc in the U.S. as well. Typhoid, a bacterial disease, is spread through food and water contamination. Nowadays typhoid is avoided through modern sanitation infrastructure and hygiene and there are effective vaccines available for typhoid. But it is still a problem in the developing world. Luckily, if properly diagnosed, it can be treated with antibiotics.
Typhoid looks a lot like other illnesses so proper diagnosis is not really possible without the right diagnostics. Unfortunately, ineffective tools such as the Widal test, are still used in developing countries where proper tests are unaffordable. If the incorrect diagnosis is given any treatment received may well be ineffective. There are specific kinds of antibiotics for specific bacterial diseases.
Before you begin treatment, any blood, feces or urine samples taken during your diagnosis will usually be tested in a laboratory to determine which strain you're infected with, so you can be treated with an appropriate antibiotic.
Antibiotics for typhoid fever
If typhoid fever is diagnosed in its early stages it can be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics would typically be taken for 7 to 14 days. Be sure to complete the full sequence even if you are feeling better. Premature termination of antibiotics is believed to be the main cause of drug-resistant bacteria--a big problem with typhoid!
Commonly prescribed antibiotics include Cipro, Zithromax and Ceftiaxone.
Tips for a successful recovery
As you recover, be sure to rest as much as possible, drink plenty of fluids and eat well. You may want to eat lighter meals more frequently while you recover.
Also, be careful to wash your hands with soap and warm water, to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.
Running into difficulties
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if your symptoms get worse or you develop new symptoms while being treated at home.
A small number of people with typhoid fever have recurring symptoms. This is known as a relapse.
Antibiotic resistant typhoid
Some strains of the Salmonella typhi bacteria that cause typhoid fever have developed a resistance to one or more types of antibiotics. This is a growing problem in places like Pakistan where the bacteria have become extremely resistant to existing drugs. If you take antibiotics to fight a typhoid infection, your symptoms should begin to improve within 2 to 3 days of taking antibiotics but it's very important you finish the course to ensure the bacteria are completely removed from your body. Doing so will help prevent the development of drug resistance in typhoid bacteria.