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Diphtheria - What Causes It and How Can It Be Treated?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Honey Gupta 86% (39 ratings)
MBBS, DLO
ENT Specialist, Faridabad  •  13 years experience
Diphtheria - What Causes It and How Can It Be Treated?

Diphtheria is an infectious disease which occurs in the throat. Let us know more about what Diphtheria is.

What is Diphtheria?
Diphtheria is a serious infectious disease that affects the throat and is caused by bacteria and viruses which usually damage human tissue in the throat. Diphtheria is highly contagious and can be spread to other persons easily. It causes serious problems in people who have never been vaccinated. It can be identified by a sheet of grayish material covering the back of the throat. It generally affects children who are age below 15 years because their metabolism and the unity to fight germs is still not very strong. Earlier when it was untreatable, it even resulted in death.

Causes of Diphtheria:
There are many causes of Diphtheria. Let us have a look at them.

  1. Diphtheria is mostly caused by the bacterias Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which affects directly the tissues lining the throat and produce exotoxins which result in burning or lead to the break down of throat tissues and cells.
  2. Diphtheria is very contagious and can easily be transmitted to another person if one of them has it.

Symptoms of Diphtheria:
There are many common symptoms of diphtheria and we will talk about some of the most important ones.

  1. The patient suffers from low fever and tremendous weakness. The metabolism and the immunity system tends to get weak therefore resulting in an overall weakness present in the whole body.
  2. Since diphtheria attacks mostly the cells and tissues present in the throat inter results in swollen glands all over the neck of the patient.
  3. Diphtheria also results in the swelling of soft tissue which gives a 'bull neck’ appearance to the throat and neck.
  4. Often patients suffering from diphtheria are diagnosed with faster heart rates.
  5. Children who are below the age of 15 can face problems like vomiting, nauseated feelings and headaches.

Treatment for Diphtheria:
In most cases, diphtheria is treated with the help of two major ways.

  1. Antitoxin: when your doctor will suspect that you have been infected with diphtheria, he may give you an anti-toxin which neutralizes the already injected diphtheria toxin. It helps to fight the germs and bacteria present in the throat and provide with relief to the patient.
  2. Antibiotic: antibiotics like penicillin helps to kill the bacteria and helps to clear the throat from their presence. Therefore providing relief.

Wash your hands carefully if you have made a person who was affected with diphtheria and try to avoid any physical contact with that person also.

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