If you live in Nigeria, and you’ve had cause to go to a private hospital when you fell ill, then you must have heard this statement a couple of times “Ma, the test we did showed that you have malaria, and a little typhoid”
As a Primary Care Physician, it irritates me when my patients come to me and say things like “Doctor, it’s like I’m having malaria and small typhoid” or “Doctor, I did one test last week, they said I have small typhoid in my blood“. I usually try my best to educate such patients but I don’t blame them for such misconceptions.
In fact, I blame the health care system for such an “untrue epidemic” of what is called “typhoid fever“. Many thanks to the popular “Widal’s test” that has led to so many people being told that they had “small typhoid“. The irony is this. Over 90percent of those people who were said to have typhoid didn’t have any such thing.
Let’s get the facts straight.
1. Typhoid is Different from Malaria. It’s one thing to have malaria, it’s another thing to have typhoid. It is arguably true that both diseases have overlapping signs and symptoms but any clinician who knows his onions would find making a diagnosis easy.
2. There is NO SUCH THING as small typhoid. You either are infected with typhoid or not. Small, big, plenty, little, and all the adjectives used to quantify typhoid are just a complete hoax.
3. Widal’s test is overrated. It is NOT a SENSITIVE test the for presence of an ongoing typhoid infection!
4. You’re at risk of antibiotic resistance if you are treated for typhoid when you don’t have it.
To know more about Typhoid and its signs and symptoms, click here. And let me quickly drop this from a trusted site on the diagnosis of typhoid.
A diagnosis of typhoid fever can usually be confirmed by analysing samples of blood, stools or urine. These will be examined under a microscope for the Salmonella typhi bacteria that cause the condition.
The bacteria aren’t always detected the first time, so you may need to have a series of tests.
Testing a sample of bone marrow is a more accurate way of diagnosing typhoid fever. However, getting the sample is both time-consuming and painful, so it’s usually only used if other tests are inconclusive.
If typhoid fever is confirmed, other members of your household may also need to be tested, in case you’ve passed the infection on to them
Don’t allow any doctor to just tell you have typhoid! Let them prove it with symptoms,signs and tests if possible. Treatment might be worse, because when you now have the “real typhoid” the drugs might not work because you’ve developed what we call antibiotics resistance. Test before Treating!
Next time you’re having a fever with headaches and joint pains, be careful before swallowing a diagnosis of “Typhoid”. Let’s confront our Doctors with the information at hand.
Antibiotics Resistance is the next global pandemic. We might be contributing to it by using drugs we don’t need and creating superbugs in the end. Bugs that are resistant to the drugs available.
Dr Osunlusi Olufemi