02 Jul Typhoid: How not to get it while traveling (and what to do if you do)
I wish I wasn’t writing this article from experience, but, well, I am. Typhoid is still common in many developing nations. If you’re getting off the beaten path, you need to take extra precautions to avoid food and water borne illness, like parasites or bacterial infections. And if, like many of us, you get it anyway, here’s what to do.
WHAT IS TYPHOID?
Also called Typhoid Fever, it is a gastro-intestinal infection caused by the Salmonellae typhi bacteria. It’s transmitted through food and water, often due to the poor hygiene of an infected individual who comes in contact with said food or water, passing on the infection. More dangerous than some other, more common causes of traveler’s diarrhea, if ignored it will spread to the bloodstream and can affect internal organs.
Typhoid is common in many parts of the world, specifically rural areas and developing nations where water sanitation is lacking and sewage problems abound. Rainy season can be a time of flare-ups as floods cause this bacteria to spread. Long-term and adventure travelers visiting non-touristy areas are at the greatest risk, especially during the wet season.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE TYPHOID?
Typhoid symptoms can vary. Usually, the first symptoms are extreme fatigue, stomach cramps and may (or may not) be accompanied by fever. Additional symptoms may include headache, lack of appetite, malaise, and an enlarged liver. Some patients experience diarrhea, constipation, or a rash on their trunk. It’s good to note that infection does not provide immunity to subsequent infections! And that once you’ve had it, you can be a carrier whether you show symptoms or not.
Hygiene! Hygiene! Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep squeaky clean, especially when eating or food is involved. Drink only purified water (boiled or bottled water), and eat well cooked foods in establishments that appear clean. For example, if the person serving your food has nowhere to wash their hands, this is a perfect example of the kind of spot that could get you sick. Street food is the most frequently cited example. When eating produce, soak it first in an iodine solution to clean it and then peel it for extra safety.
TYPHOID FEVER IS TREATED WITH ANTIBIOTICS. WITH INCREASING ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE, YOU SHOULD UNDERGO LAB TESTS TO ENSURE THAT’S WHAT YOU HAVE! BUT MEANWHILE, IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE ME, YOU’RE LOOKING FOR NATURAL SOLUTIONS TO HELP YOUR BODY ALONG THE WAY. HERE ARE SOME OF MY GO-TO IMMUNE BOOSTING, INFECTION HEALING, HOME REMEDIES TO ACCOMPANY THE DOCTOR’S ORDERS.
1. HOMEMADE REHYDRATION FLUID
There are several recipes for this. My personal favorite is mineral water with fresh squeezed lime juice (approx. 1 lime) and a little salt (1/4 tsp). Mix well and drink cold (because it tastes good that way). It’s also great for a hangover.
2. GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT
Highly anti-bacterial and anti-viral, this extract isn’t just a disease fighter; it’s also an immune booster, packed with antioxidants and bioflavonoids. It’s a serious disinfectant, and tastes like it, so 5 drops in a glass of water every 4 hours can make a big difference in the severity of the infection. (For those of you in San Miguel de Allende, you can purchase this at the natural pharmacy on the Ancha de San Antonio across from Cardo and the Saturday Organic Market, where Dr. Gil’s office is located).
Grapefruit Seed Extract is mildly controversial – so do a little research and decide for yourself.
Garlic is an immune powerhouse; naturally antimicrobial and detoxifying, it helps your system fight back against the terrible Typhoid. I put garlic in nearly everything I cook, but if you’re really brave, eat a clove raw on an empty stomach. It is truly one of the greatest foods for fighting infection.
4. GINGER BASIL TEA
Ginger is one of the great natural defenses, used for its anti-microbial properties and ability to soothe the stomach; it also boosts the immune system. Combine that with basil, a natural antibiotic and fever-reducer, and you’re on the right track to feeling better. I recommend this recipe: 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 (from 10homeremedies.com).
5. HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK (BONE BROTH)
Everyone has heard that chicken soup is good when you’re sick, but why and to what end? Bone broth, the soup made from slowly cooking bones and fat from a chicken (or other animal), is the secret to that healing. It fights inflammation in the gut, inhibits infections and heals the stomach lining.
6. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple Cider Vinegar has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It also replaces minerals in the depleted system. Here’s recipe I like to use: 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 (from 10homeremedies.com).
Looking for a Doctor in San Miguel de Allende?
Nicholas Ransom ND, LAc
Mex. Cell local 044-415-114-4686
Mex. Cell 011-52-1-415-114-4686 dialing from US
Doctor César A. Gil Hoyos
Mex. 01 415 154 5111
HAVE YOU HAD EXPERIENCES WITH TYPHOID OR SOME OTHER TYPE OF STOMACH BUG WHILE TRAVELING? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS BELOW.