Note: Do consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treament of this condition. Use home remedies just as an adjunct treatment.
Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, is a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract and bloodstream. It is most commonly caused due to the Salmonella typhi (S. typhi) bacterium.
Once the bacteria enters the body through contaminated food, drinks or water, they multiply and spread from the intestines into the bloodstream. The bacteria travel through the blood to your lymph nodes, liver, spleen, gallbladder and other parts of the body.
Typhoid fever is common in less-industrialized countries, mainly due to problems with unsafe drinking water, inadequate sewage disposal and flooding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 21.5 million people in developing countries contract typhoid each year.
Early symptoms of typhoid are fever, weakness, headache and abdominal pain. As the disease gets worse, one can also have symptoms like severe diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, loss of appetite, skin rashes, blood in the stools, chills, delirium, hallucinations, fluctuating mood, enlarged liver, nosebleeds and lethargy. Symptoms usually improve in 2 to 4 weeks with proper treatment.
Once diagnosed with typhoid, doctors prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria. It is very important to complete the full course of antibiotics to prevent recurrence of the infection.
In addition, use of clean water along with good hygiene and sanitation are important to prevent spreading the illness to others. There are also vaccines that can protect you from contracting typhoid.
Some home remedies can also provide relief from typhoid symptoms and promote quick recovery.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for typhoid fever.
1. Cold Compresses
When you have a high fever, apply cold compresses to help your body temperature come down quickly.
- Soak a washcloth in cool tap water, wring out the excess water and place it on your forehead. Change the washcloth frequently. Follow this treatment until your temperature drops.
- You can also use a cold damp washcloth to sponge areas like your armpits, feet, hands and groin to reduce body temperature. Do this at regular intervals to control a high fever.
Note: Do not use very cold or ice water as it can worsen the condition.
2. Increase Fluid Intake
Due to high fever and diarrhea, you may become dehydrated. To prevent this, increase your fluid intake. It will keep your body hydrated and encourage elimination of waste material and toxins.
- Drink about 8 to 10 glasses of bottled or purified water daily. To be on the safe side, boil your drinking water if using tap water.
- Along with water, increase your consumption of coconut water, herbal teas, fresh fruit juices, soups and glucose water.
3. Homemade ORS
Fluid replacement or fluid resuscitation is essential to replenish fluid lost through diarrhea and prevent dehydration. You can do this with oral rehydration solution (ORS). ORS will reduce the intensity of typhoid symptoms and aid recovery.
You can use ORS approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) that you can easily buy from any health store. You can also make ORS at home.
- Mix ½ small spoon of salt and 6 small spoons of sugar in 4 cups of clean drinking water.
- Drink this homemade ORS several times a day until you recover completely.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is energizing and a good remedy for typhoid fever. Its acidic property helps draw heat out of the skin, which in turn reduces high body temperature. Moreover, the minerals in apple cider vinegar replenish minerals lost due to diarrhea.
- Mix ½ teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a little honey in a glass of water. Drink it before eating your meals. Follow this remedy for 5 to 7 days.
- You can also prepare a mixture of one part apple cider vinegar and two parts cool water. Soak a washcloth in it, wring out the excess water and place it on your forehead and abdomen. Change the washcloth once it becomes warm. Repeat as needed until your fever has dropped.
The antimicrobial properties of garlic help fight off bacteria that cause typhoid fever. It will also boost your immune system. Moreover, it helps eliminate harmful toxins from the body and speed up recovery.
- Eat 2 garlic cloves on an empty stomach for a couple of weeks to help get rid of typhoid fever symptoms.
- You can also mix ½ teaspoon of crushed garlic, 1 cup of milk and 4 cups of water. Boil the solution until it reduces to ¼ of the original amount. Drink it 3 times a day.
Note: Garlic is not recommended for pregnant women and small children.
Basil is another effective treatment for typhoid fever. This herb has antibiotic and antibacterial properties that can help get rid of the bacteria that cause typhoid fever. Moreover, it helps bring down a fever, calm the stomach and boost your immune system.
- Add 20 basil leaves and 1 teaspoon of crushed ginger to 1 cup of water. Boil it until the solution reduces by half. Add a little honey and drink this tea 2 or 3 times a day for a few days.
- You can also extract the juice from 5 to 7 basil leaves. Add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper to the juice and eat it 2 or 3 times a day for a couple of weeks.
Cloves are also helpful for treating typhoid fever. The essential oils in cloves have antibacterial properties, thus cloves can kill the bacteria that cause typhoid.
Cloves also help ease vomiting and diarrhea, two common symptoms of typhoid.
- Add 5 to 7 clove buds to 8 cups of water.
- Boil this solution until it reduces by half.
- Remove from heat, cover and allow it to cool.
- Strain and then drink this concoction throughout the day.
- Follow this herbal treatment for at least 1 week.
Bananas can bring down the fever and treat diarrhea in people enduring typhoid. The pectin present in bananas is a soluble fiber that helps absorb liquid in the intestines, thus reducing diarrhea. Moreover, the potassium in bananas helps replace electrolytes lost during fever and diarrhea.
- Eat 2 to 3 ripe bananas daily until your typhoid symptoms subside.
- Alternatively, mix 2 mashed bananas in ½ cup yogurt and add 1 teaspoon of honey. Eat this 2 or 3 times daily for a few weeks.
Drinking buttermilk is another excellent herbal treatment for typhoid fever. It is easy on the stomach and aids recovery. It will also prevent dehydration.
- Drink a few glasses of buttermilk daily until you recover completely.
- You can also add 2 teaspoons of freshly extracted juice of coriander leaves to 1 cup of buttermilk. Drink this 2 times daily for 1 to 2 weeks.
- To help bring down the fever, add the pulp of 1 banana to a glass of buttermilk. Drink this 2 times daily.
10. Eat High-Nutrition Foods
When you become weak from typhoid, it is important to follow a special diet to provide your body proper nutrition. A good diet will also help balance your body’s fluids and electrolytes and boost your immune system.
- Increase your caloric intake to provide energy.
- Eat foods high in protein like eggs and milk to help your body recover.
- High-carbohydrate foods must also be included in your diet to meet the body’s energy requirements.
- Due to fever and sweating, you may have low levels of electrolytes like potassium and sodium. Drink fruit juices, soups and broths to compensate for the mineral loss.
- Add the juice of 1 lemon and a little honey to a glass of warm water and drink it 2 or 3 times a day. Simply drinking a glass of warm water mixed with honey will also soothe the digestive tract.
- Drink fresh orange juice to keep your body hydrated and cool.
- Avoid eating meats and sugary items for a few days.
- Eat simple foods like porridge, legumes with rice, grilled fish and boiled or raw vegetables.
- Include green vegetable smoothies and soups in your diet.
- Do not eat unhygienic, street food and always opt for home cooked food.
- Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables that you cannot peel.
- Wash your hands properly before cooking a meal or eating food.
- Always drink boiled or bottled water.
- Maintain good hygiene and sanitation to prevent the spread of typhoid.
- Avoid stimulants like alcohol, caffeinated beverages, tea, carbonated drinks and spicy foods.
- Avoid milk and dairy products if you have diarrhea.
- Eat foods that are high in fiber if you suffer from constipation.
- To improve bowel movements, add ½ teaspoon of psyllium seeds to a cup of warm water and drink it.
- Bed rest is very important because the disease causes a lot of weakness.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Daquesha C. Chever, DO (Family Physician)
Is typhoid a communicable disease?
Typhoid or typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella Typhi. This bacterium is more prevalent in countries with poor sanitation, where the primary water source is contaminated with sewage.
The bacteria are shed in the feces of those infected, and the infection is further spread through the ingestion of food or beverages contaminated directly with the water source or by close contact with the infected individual.
Salmonella Typhi can invade the small intestine, liver, spleen, bone marrow, and gallbladder, causing a flu-like illness that can last for 3-4 weeks.
What are the major symptoms of typhoid fever?
Symptoms of typhoid fever are abdominal pain, high fever 103-104 F (39-40 C), headache, body aches, diarrhea or constipation, cough, weakness, and loss of appetite. The infection is treated with antibiotics, and recovery typically takes 7-10 days.
Can a typhoid fever relapse once the infection has cleared and does it have any long term effects?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a relapse can occur in up to 10% of patients diagnosed with typhoid fever. A relapse is characterized by milder symptoms that don’t typically last nearly as long as the initial infection. These relapses are thought to be occurring due to antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella Typhi.
Complications arising from untreated typhoid can cause meningitis, peritonitis and intestine perforation, and septicemia(sepsis), all of which can be fatal. Permanent psychiatric problems can also occur in which the person develops paranoia or hallucinations.
What dietary changes should be made when suffering from typhoid?
During the course of infection, the following foods should be avoided: foods that are spicy, greasy or fried, meats, foods high in fiber, butter, and ghee. These foods can aggravate the gastrointestinal tract further.
Instead, consuming foods that are soft and bland such as bananas, rice, applesauce, mashed potatoes, soft cooked vegetables, light biscuits or toast are preferred and better tolerated.
Make sure to stay hydrated as much as possible by drinking low calorie/ low sugar beverages, water/beverages containing electrolytes, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
Please share any further tips and suggestions that you feel merit a special mention when dealing with typhoid.
A persistent infection of Salmonella Typhi can occur within the gallbladder, and these people are known to have a chronic infection. This isn’t common but can happen in 3-5% of those diagnosed with typhoid fever.
These individuals are called carriers of the bacteria because they continue to shed Salmonella Typhi in their stool, even after they have been treated with antibiotics and no longer have symptoms. Therefore, it is important to follow up with a doctor to make sure the bacteria are no longer present in the stool after antibiotic treatment.
If you plan on traveling outside the country, speak to a physician or local health department whether or not you are going to a typhoid endemic area. A vaccine is available which can be given 2 weeks prior to travel.
About Dr. Daquesha C. Chever, DO: Dr. Chever is a Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician and renowned author of ‘Step Into Your Destiny; Your Next Best Is Waiting’, speaker, and consultant. She earned her Doctorate degree from Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her Residency Family Medicine at NSU-Palmetto General Hospital in Miami, Florida, with a passion for disease processes of the skin and primary disease prevention.
Since graduation, Dr. Chever found her niche for teaching, and was awarded Clinical Preceptor of the year at her Alma mater in 2015. She is currently employed as a Urgent Care Physician and enjoys being available to meet the health care demands of her community.