Treating typhoid fever 

Typhoid fever can usually be successfully treated with a course of antibiotic medication.

Most cases can be treated at home, but hospital admission may be required if the condition is severe.

Treatment at home

If typhoid fever is diagnosed in its early stages, a course of antibiotic tablets may be prescribed for you. Most people need to take these for 7 to 14 days.

Some strains of the Salmonella typhi bacteria that cause typhoid fever have developed a resistance to one or more types of antibiotics. This is increasingly becoming a problem with typhoid infections originating in South East Asia.

Any blood, stool or urine samples taken during your diagnosis will therefore usually be tested in a laboratory to determine which strain you're infected with, so you can be treated with an appropriate antibiotic.

Your symptoms should begin to improve within two to three days of taking antibiotics. However, it's very important you finish the course, to make sure the bacteria are completely removed from your body.

Make sure you rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat regular meals. You may find it easier to eat smaller meals more frequently, rather than three larger meals a day.

You should also maintain good standards of personal hygiene, such as regularly washing your hands with soap and warm water, to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.

Contact your GP as soon as possible if your symptoms get worse or if you develop new symptoms while being treated at home.

In a small number of cases, the symptoms or infection may reoccur. This is known as a relapse (see below).

Staying off work or school

Most people being treated for typhoid fever can return to work or school as soon as they start to feel better.

The exceptions to this are people who work with food and vulnerable people, such as children under five, the elderly and those in poor health.

In these cases, you or your child should only return to work or nursery after tests on three stool samples taken at 48-hour intervals have shown that the bacteria are no longer present.

Hospital treatment

Hospital admission is usually recommended if you have severe symptoms of typhoid fever, such as persistent vomiting, severe diarrhoea or a swollen stomach.

As a precaution, young children who develop typhoid fever may be admitted to hospital.

In hospital, you'll have antibiotic injections and you may also be given fluids and nutrients directly into a vein through an intravenous drip.

Surgery may be needed if you develop life-threatening complications of typhoid fever, such as internal bleeding or a section of your digestive system splitting. However, this is very rare in people being treated with antibiotics.

Most people respond well to hospital treatment and improve within three to five days. However, it may be several weeks until you're well enough to leave hospital.


Some people who are treated for typhoid fever experience a relapse, which is when symptoms return. In these cases, the symptoms usually return around a week after antibiotic treatment has finished.

The second time around, symptoms are usually milder and last for a shorter amount of time than the original illness, but further treatment with antibiotics is usually recommended. See your GP as soon as possible if your symptoms return after treatment.

Long-term carriers

After your symptoms have passed, you should have another stool test to check if there are still Salmonella typhi bacteria in your faeces. If there are, you may have become a carrier of the typhoid infection, and you may need to have a further 28-day course of antibiotics to "flush out" the bacteria.

Until test results show that you're free of bacteria, avoid handling or preparing food. It's also very important that you wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet.

Page last reviewed: 06/07/2015

Next review due: 06/07/2017