Intestinal bleeding or holes

The most serious complication of typhoid fever — intestinal bleeding or holes (perforations) — may develop in the third week of illness. About 5 percent of people with typhoid fever experience this complication.

Intestinal bleeding is often marked by a sudden drop in blood pressure and shock, followed by the appearance of blood in your stool.

A perforated intestine occurs when your small intestine or large bowel develops a hole, causing intestinal contents to leak into your abdominal cavity and triggering signs and symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bloodstream infection (sepsis). This life-threatening emergency requires immediate medical care.

Other, less common complications

Other possible complications include:

  • Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
  • Inflammation of the lining of the heart and valves (endocarditis)
  • Pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis)
  • Kidney or bladder infections
  • Infection and inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
  • Psychiatric problems such as delirium, hallucinations and paranoid psychosis

With prompt treatment, nearly all people in industrialized nations recover from typhoid. Without treatment, some people may not survive complications of the disease.

Aug. 22, 2012

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