ABC Medical Center > Diphtheria

What is Diphtheria?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a serious condition caused by a bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which contains a toxin that affects the nasal and throat mucous membranes, spreading through the fluids emitted when sneezing, speaking, or coughing; touching contaminated surfaces and objects; or by having direct contact with the skin lesions of a patient.

Thanks to the vaccination schedules that include the diphtheria vaccine, its presence is scarce in developed countries, although in developing countries there is still a certain presence. 

Diphtheria must be diagnosed and treated promptly to avoid serious complications such as heart, kidney, and neurological damage. In addition, it can become a cause of death in infants. 

Signs and symptoms Diphtheria

Symptoms begin after three or four days of infection, including the following:  

  • Sore and swollen throat. 
  • Swollen lymph nodes. 
  • Growth of a thick grayish or blackish membrane that forms a layer in the throat and obstructs the airways.
  • High fever.
  • Chills.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Nasal fluid.

In some cases, diphtheria causes mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, although in both cases, patients have the ability to infect others. 

If your child or you have any of these symptoms, or have not been vaccinated, you should see your doctor immediately.

Potential risks:

  • Not being vaccinated or not having completed the necessary doses.
  • Unsanitary living conditions.
  • Overcrowding
  • Travel to places where there is a high incidence of diphtheria.

How to prevent it:

The triple vaccine (diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus) is the main weapon against this disease that continues to affect the population of countries with poor vaccination schedules.

Diagnosis and treatment Diphtheria

Once the doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, he or she will perform a physical examination to see if there is a gray coating on your throat and tonsils. If deemed necessary, he or she will perform a throat swab to confirm in the laboratory if it is diphtheria. 

Upon confirming the diagnosis, the treatment to be followed will be established, which is usually intense and aggressive to prevent the disease from progressing. It usually includes the following drugs:

  • Antibiotics. 
  • Antitoxin. 

It is also possible to receive preventive treatment with antibiotics and a vaccine booster if you have been in contact with a diphtheria patient, in this way, it is possible to prevent the infection from occurring. 

In ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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