Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that affects the mucous membranes in the throat and nose . Diphtheria is a disease that is very contagious in the nose and throat. This disease can be prevented by vaccination.
Diphtheria is a past disease in most parts of the world within 10 years, as reported by Medikal News Today . In countries where there is a lower booster vaccine uptake, however, like in India, thousands of cases remain every year. In 2014, there were 7,321 cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally.
If a person is not vaccinated against the bacteria that causes diphtheria, infection can cause serious complications, such as nervous disorders, heart failure, and even death.
Overall, 5 to 10 percent of infected people will die. Some people are more vulnerable than others, with a mortality rate of up to 20 percent in people who are infected under 5 years or more than 40 years.
The type of bacteria that causes diphtheria is Corynebacterium diphtheria. The condition of the disease will spread through direct contact with objects containing bacteria, such as sharing a drink cup, or the same tisue or handkerchief use. You can also be affected if there are diphtheria patients around you who sneeze, cough or runny nose from the nose. Although an infected person does not necessarily show signs and symptoms, the person is still able to transmit up to 6 weeks after the initial infection.
Bacteria often infect the nose and throat. Once you are infected, bacteria will release harmful substances called toxins. The toxin will spread throughout the body through the bloodstream and often causes a thick gray layer on the mucosa of the nose, throat, tongue, and airways.
In some cases, this toxin can also go to other organs and damage other organs such as the heart, brain, and kidneys. This can cause life-threatening complications such as myocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart), paralysis (muscle weakness), and kidney failure .
Diphtheria Risk Factors
Children should routinely get vaccinations to fight this disease, so there is less risk of exposure. In the United States and Europe, diphtheria vaccine has been routinely carried out so diphtheria rarely occurs, but in developing countries like Indonesia, diphtheria can still found mainly in children under 5 years of age and parents over the age of 60 years. People who have increased risk include:
- Don’t get the latest vaccination
- Visiting countries that do not provide immunization against diphtheria
- Have an immune disorder such as AIDS
- Unhealthy lifestyle or poor sanitation
Symptoms of diphtheria appear within 2-5 days after exposure to bacteria. Some people have no symptoms, but some people have mild symptoms that are often the same as ordinary flu. There are typical and visible symptoms of diphtheria, such as a thick layer of gray in the throat and tonsils. Other diphtheria symptoms include:
- Enlargement of the gland in the neck
- A loud sound like barking
- Sore throat
- Blue skin
- Salivating continuously
- Discomfort in the body
Additional diphtheria symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing and difficulty swallowing
- Change of view
- Talk lisp
- Signs of shock such as pale and cold skin, cold sweats, and a fast heartbeat.
You can also experience cutaneous diphtheria or skin diphtheria if you have poor hygiene and live in a tropical area. Skin diphtheria often causes ulcers (sores) and redness in the affected skin.
Diagnosis of Diphtheria
Your doctor will do a physical examination to check for enlarged lymph nodes . They will also ask about your medical history and the symptoms you feel. The doctor will also be sure that the patient has diphtheria if he sees a gray layer in the tonsils or in the throat. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will take a sample of the affected tissue and send it to the laboratory.
If you have diphtheria, contact your doctor immediately. Diphtheria is a disease that can cause serious damage to the kidneys, nervous system, and heart, if left untreated. This disease causes fatal things from 3 percent of the cases.
Diphtheria is a serious condition, so doctors will provide therapy quickly and aggressively. The first step of therapy for diphtheria treatment is antitoxin injection. This antitoxin injection will fight the toxins produced by bacteria in the body. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have an allergy to certain drugs. If there is an allergy, the doctor will be careful when giving antitoxin, starting with a small dose and increasing gradually. Doctors can also prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin and erythromycin, to help eradicate infections in the body.
During the treatment of diphtheria, doctors can also advise hospitalized patients in isolation rooms so that patients will not potentially transmit the infection to others.