My 14-year-old son is suffering from an attack of typhoid. He feels very hungry and weak but also complains of nausea so we are confused as to how to feed him. Can you explain what is the best diet to follow for him?

Typhoid is a condition, which is got through contaminated water, milk or food. It is a salmonella infection resulting in a very high fever for a shot duration and in this case the lining of the small intestines are infected and damaged. Sometimes ulcers are formed, sometimes diarrhea occurs but usually stomach pain and fever are common. Absorption of food nutrients is hindered and due to this you will feel hungry, headache may occur too.

The diet principles to follow are to keep up a high calorie intake with plenty of carbohydrate as fruit juices with glucose, coconut water, barley water, porridge, rice kanjee, rava etc. High protein is also required so if there is no diarrhea, milk, custards, fruit milk shake, thin dhal, eggs, soft cooked fish and chicken may be given. Mashed potato and other soft cooked vegetables and fruits like banana must be given. As there is intestinal inflammation all fiber is to be eliminated from the diet so that the intestine is not further irritated. Also a bland diet is to be followed without any spices or masala.

Because of the fever, water balance may be affected. So plenty of water and fluids are necessary. Fat intake has to be as low as possible so that we do not put extra burden on the digestive process and help keep the fever down. Too much fat in the food during fever causes the fever to rise higher. It may also cause vomiting which we want to avoid as far as possible or there would be further lose of nutrients and more weakness.

Foods to be strictly avoided are butter, ghee, vegetable oil, chillies, spices and all irritating fibers occurring in foods. Also rich pastries, fried snacks, desserts and thick cream soups must be avoided. But as mentioned earlier much care must be taken to get in high quantity of calories other wise the person becomes very weak, there is much hair loss and loss of muscle tone. Small frequent feeds of juice, fruit, milk or lassi, bread and jam and light biscuits may be tried. Taking care and putting effort in feeding your child now will shorten the recovery period.

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