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Typhoid Fever Symptoms and Complications: What To Watch Out For

Typhoid Fever Symptoms and Complications: What To Watch Out For

Typhoid fever is an acute yet potentially fatal food-borne illness. Following this, it is important to watch out for typhoid fever symptoms and begin treatment early.

Typhoid fever affects the intestinal tract and can spread throughout other parts of the body. This infection is due to Salmonella typhi, a bacterial strain related to the Salmonella that causes food poisoning.

People may acquire typhoid fever from consuming contaminated raw food items and water. Typhoid Fever is most common in countries with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. Salmonella typhi can be found in human stool and urine. Transmission can occur when a person touches a food item using unwashed hands containing Salmonella typhi bacteria.

Typhoid Fever Cases

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates about 11 to 21 million cases of typhoid fever yearly, with reported deaths ranging from 128,000 to 161,000. In 2019, the Philippines recorded 16,888 infections and 30 deaths from the disease.

Typhoid fever is curable with antibiotics. Some vaccines can be taken to minimize the chances of acquiring the bacteria associated with the disease. It is also preventable by practicing proper hygiene and food preparation. However, it is still important to look for typhoid fever symptoms to avoid further progression and worsening of the disease.

Typhoid Fever Symptoms

Typhoid fever symptoms may manifest in a person 1-2 weeks after being infected with the Salmonella strain that causes the disease. The main symptoms of this illness include the following:

Continuous high fever

Patients can experience fever that may reach as high as 39–40°C. This kind of fever does not go down more than 1°C within 24 hours.

Headache and Body Pains

Along with high fever, patients may also experience a headache. They can also experience aches and pains in some parts of the body, such as the muscles.

Dry Cough

Typhoid fever can also come with coughing but without a release of phlegm or mucus.

Stomach Pain

As the bacteria that cause typhoid fever attacks the intestinal tract, patients may experience stomach ache. They may also experience either of the following:

  • Constipation – This is when bowel movements occur lesser than usual and feces become harder to release.
  • Diarrhea – The opposite of constipation, patients may experience more bowel movements, releasing loose, watery stool.

Loss of Appetite

Patients may also experience a loss of appetite alongside stomach pain and digestive complications.


These may appear as small red “rose”-colored spots on the abdomen or chest.

Typhoid Fever Complications

People who haven’t been treated with medication early on may experience the following complications:

Internal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal bleeding is the most common complication associated with typhoid fever, occuring in up to 10% of all patients. Because of blood loss from the bleeding, a blood transfusion procedure may need to be performed. Surgery may also be required to repair the bleeding site. The symptoms associated with this complication are the following:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Paleness of Skin
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Presence of Blood on Vomit
  • Dark, “tar-like” feces


This refers to an inflammation of the peritoneum or the lining of the abdomen. This lining covers the stomach, kidney, liver, and bowel. Considered a very severe complication, the perforation or rupture of the abdomen lining is due to a bacterial infection brought by Salmonella typhi. It can lead to sepsis or an overreaction of the immune system to the point of damaging the body’s own organs. In turn, the rapid infection may also cause multiple organ failure. Not treating this properly will lead to the death of the patient.

These complications may be alarming. However, these can be avoidable through early treatment of the early typhoid fever symptoms in a patient.

Key Takeaway

Typhoid Fever is a food-borne illness caused by consuming food items and water that have been contaminated with the Salmonella typhi bacteria strain. This disease can be treated by taking antibiotics. Prevention can also be done by taking antibiotics, proper hygiene measures, and proper food preparation. However, if not treated early, this may lead to severe complications that can be life-threatening. Thus, managing and treating typhoid fever is important.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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Written by Dan Navarro Updated Apr 15, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel