Typhoid fever

Read about the symptoms of typhoid fever, which usually develop one or two weeks after infection with Salmonella typhi bacteria.

The symptoms of typhoid fever usually develop one or two weeks after a person becomes infected with the Salmonella typhi bacteria.

With treatment, the symptoms of typhoid fever should quickly improve within three to five days.

If typhoid fever isn't treated, it will usually get worse over the course of a few weeks, and there's a significant risk of life-threatening complications of typhoid fever developing. Without treatment, it can take weeks, or even months, to fully recover and symptoms can return.

Common symptoms

Common symptoms of typhoid fever can include:

  • a high temperature, which can reach up to 39-40C (103-104F)
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • stomach pain
  • feeling sick
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation or diarrhoea (adults tend to get constipation and children tend to get diarrhoea)
  • a rash made up of small pink spots on the trunk of the body
  • exhaustion
  • confusion, such as not knowing where you are or what's going on around you

Seeking medical advice

See your GP as soon as possible if you have symptoms of typhoid fever (even if you have been vaccinated against it), particularly if you have recently returned from travelling abroad.

It's unlikely that your symptoms will be caused by typhoid fever, but it's best to get them checked out, in case you need treatment.

If you become ill while travelling abroad, you can get help by:

  • contacting a representative of the travel company you booked with
  • contacting your travel insurer
  • contacting the British consulate in the area you're visiting or, if you're feeling very ill, the local emergency services

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides travel advice by country, and the contact details of all the British consulates and embassies in foreign countries.

Before you travel, it's a good idea to make a list of relevant contact details and telephone numbers, in case of an emergency.

Bacteria are tiny, single-celled organisms that live in the body. Some can cause illness and disease and others are good for you.

Constipation is when you pass stools less often than usual, or when you have difficulty going to the toilet because your stools are hard and small. 

Diarrhoea is the passing of frequent watery stools when you go to the toilet.

A fever is when you have a high body temperature (over 38C or 100.4F).

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