Typhoid is one of the prime contagious diseases of the world today. It is a fast spreading disease, which can become an epidemic within a short while. Countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are very much prone to typhoid contagions, where thousands of people die each year in epidemics. Even in developed countries like America, typhoid is a threat, as immigrants can bring the contagion with them. In a city like New York, there are about 35 cases of people dying per year of typhoid infections.
Basically speaking, typhoid is a bacterial infection of the alimentary tract in humans. The bacterium responsible for the infection of typhoid is the Salmonella typhi. It is ingested through contaminated food and water and thus it enters the alimentary tract of humans. Here it mixes in the bloodstream and multiplies until it is finally eliminated through egestion. However the multiplied bacteria that are retained in the bloodstream cause the condition of typhoid.
Both the conditions of manthara and antrika jwara prescribed in Ayurveda correspond to the infection of typhoid. Hence, both these terms can be applied to typhoid.
According to Ayurvedic principles, there are three doshas or humors which determine the general body constitution of every person. These three doshas are as follows:-
In every person, there is a proportion of these three doshas. When there is an imbalance (vitiation) in any of these three parameters, then it causes vyaadhi or disease in the body.
Typhoid is a very serious disease. It is caused due to vitiation in any one of the three doshas. This means, typhoid causes a change in all the elements of the body – wind, water, fire and earth.
From a medical point of view, typhoid is caused due to a bacterial infection. The bacterium belongs to the salmonella family, and is named as Salmonella typhi. This bacterium lives in the digestive tract of humans. Hence, typhoid is also classified as a food-borne disease.
The following are the ways in which Salmonella typhi can enter the body of a healthy person:-
Typhoid conditions usually last for three to four weeks, with the highest fever on the eighth day. The general symptoms of the disease are the same and there are very little variations from one infected person to the other. The following are some of the very commonly observed symptoms of typhoid:-
A persistent fever that appears suddenly is one of the preliminary indicators of typhoid. Fevers make their appearances in the morning and become more severe in the evening. Typhoid fevers are accompanied by headaches and stomach pains.
There is nausea and a feeling of vomiting.
Due to loss of appetite, the person’s diet is very much restricted. Hence the person loses weight.
The person loses sleep and feels feverish all through the night.
Typhoid people are very weak and fatigued as long as they are affected by the disease.
There may be occasional instances of nosebleeds and chills.
The mental state of the person becomes quite unreliable. The person would be in a constant state of delirium and emotional unbalance. Irritability and hot-headedness is common and must be handled with care by the family members.
There are several abdominal disorders that accompany typhoid fevers. The following are some of them:-
Typhoid is mostly as tropical disease. It is found in the developing countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico and African and South American countries. Natives of these countries are the most exposed to typhoid risks.
People who need to eat outside the home most of the time are also at high risk. If the person is not particular about the cleanliness of the foods and drinks, he or she consumes, then there could be a typhoid infection.
Also, family members and neighbors of typhoid victims are at high risk. It is absolutely vital that these people be vaccinated and take due precautions like quarantining the patient of typhoid.
Some people carry the typhoid bacterium in them and can infect others even if they themselves do not show the symptoms of the disease. Such people must be identified and treated properly. One such example in history was of Mary Mollen, known as Typhoid Mary, a cook in New York about a hundred years back. She is known to have infected about fifty people causing five deaths before herself dying after more than two decades in quarantine.
Typhoid can be fatal if ignored in the early stages.
Ulcers can be formed in the bowels during typhoid. If these ulcers are not taken care of, they lead to perforations in the bowels. The perforations are formed in the third week of the typhoid fever, and it is known to develop in 5% of all the people infected with typhoid. Perforation of the intestines is a very dangerous situation and may lead to death (about 25% of all typhoid deaths are due to intestinal perforation).
If a typhoid patient has developed intestinal perforations, then the following symptoms are observed:-
Apart from the very dangerous complication of intestinal perforation, there are some other less dangerous complications that can be seen:-
In most cases, typhoid itself is cured with medication, but the complications may persist. For this reason, a proper treatment of typhoid must be followed until the last course of the medication. The relapse rate in typhoid is very high.
Typhoid is a contagious disease; hence it can be prevented by taking a few precautions. The following are some guidelines to prevent typhoid:-
Water must be properly filtered and boiled before drinking.
Food must be properly washed and then cooked.
One must not eat or drink in unhygienic or unreliable places.
If you feel thirsty when outside, opt for teas and coffees, since they use boiled water. Fruit juices have cold water which may be unhygienic. At the same time, do not use ice in your drinks, as the water used for making ice may be contaminated.
While eating fruits, they must be washed and then the outer peel must be discarded.
Wash your hands repeatedly with soap and water. This will help prevent the spread of infection to others. Also instill good hygienic habits in your children if you have.
Children should be given typhoid vaccinations.
If there is a typhoid patient in the vicinity, then all due precautions must be taken. People must be vaccinated. There must be proper provision for the disposal of the fecal matter of the patient.
Dietary modifications are essential in typhoid as it is a disease of the digestive tract. The role of the proximate principles of food – carbohydrates, fats and proteins – are briefly mentioned below.
Carbohydrates should be an essential part of the diet because of the following reasons:-
Also, patients of typhoid are unable to eat much. Hence, carbohydrates are ideal foods as they can provide the requisite amount of energy within a small volume. Foods such as wheat, rice, maize, sorghum, potatoes, etc. are rich in carbohydrates.
Fats can be consumed only if there is no diarrhea. Fats can also provide high amounts of energy, and they can regulate the metabolism of fatty acids in the diet. Vegetable oils can be used. Milk products such as butter, cheese, cream and emulsified fats can be consumed.
Proteins are essential as they replace the worn out cells and help in the repair process of the body. Eggs and milk are the suitable proteins that can be consumed during typhoid fevers.
The following dietary guidelines must be followed when suffering from typhoid:-
Ayurveda has a host of herbs that are beneficial in conditions of typhoid. The following is a list of these herbs with their actions on the human body:-
The following is a popularly used course of treatment for typhoid:-
With the above treatment procedure, if the body is massaged with MahalakshadiTela, then there is immense relief.