What is Diphtheria?
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that usually affects the mucous membranes of your nose and throat. More serious complications may occur in people who have never had the diphtheria vaccination.
In general, diphtheria can be treated with medications. However, in severe cases, diphtheria may damage your heart, kidneys and nervous system. Although treatment is available for diphtheria, the disease can cause death, especially in children. It takes the implementation of a comprehensive immunization program to overcome the diphtheria problem
Causes of Diphtheria
Diphtheria is caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which usually breed on or near the surface of your throat. These bacteria can be transmitted from one person to another through airborne droplets–which are when you inhale infected droplets from sneezes or coughs. Diphtheria transmission usually occurs in crowded places.
Moreover, diphtheria can also transmit through contaminated personal or household items. For example, when you touch a tissue or towel used by an infected person who may have been contaminated with these bacteria. You can also transfer diphtheria-causing bacteria if you touch an infected wound.
Diphtheria has a high risk to be transmitted via droplets–not only from the infected person, but also from careers, both children and adults who seem to be healthy.
When to See a Doctor for Diphtheria?
To determine if you have diphtheria, your doctor must know what signs and symptoms experienced. Your doctor may perform a swab test on the back of your throat or nose to look for the bacteria that causes diphtheria.
In addition, your doctor may also take a sample of the ulcer (open wound) to see the growth of diphtheria-causing bacteria. If the bacteria grow and produce toxins, your doctor will be able to confirm that you have diphtheria. However, bacteria take time to develop. Thus, it is very important to seek immediate medical treatment if your doctor starts to suspect diphtheria symptoms.
Symptoms of Diphtheria
Diphtheria symptoms usually occur 2 to 5 days after you become infected. Below are some symptoms of diphtheria that you need to watch out for, including:
- Fever and chills.
- Discharge from the nose.
- Sore throat and hoarseness.
- Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
- A thick, grey membrane covering the throat and tonsils.
- Malaise, which when you feel uncomfortable for no apparent reasons, such as achiness and fatigue.
In some cases, the bacterial infection that causes diphtheria only leads to mild disease and no obvious symptoms at all. You should be aware of contact with potential careers, as they may catch diphtheria without symptoms and still have the potential to spread the transmission without appearing sick.
Treatment for Dipfteria
Diphtheria is a serious disease. It requires immediate medical treatment as soon as possible. Available treatments for diphtheria may include:
Consume antibiotics as recommended by your doctor, such as penicillin or erythromycin to help kill bacteria and clear bacterial infections in your body.
If you are suspected to have diphtheria, your doctor may prescribe you medications to fight diphtheria toxins in your body. These medications are called antitoxins and given through injection. Your doctor may perform a skin allergy test before administering an antitoxin. Your body will respond to antitoxins if you have allergies. You will be given a small dose at the start of treatment and your doctor may gradually increase the dose over time.
Children and adults with diphtheria usually need to be treated in a hospital and isolated in an intensive care unit. This is done to prevent the bacteria from spreading to anyone who has not received the diphtheria vaccine.
Diphtheria sufferers usually cannot pass it on to others within 48 hours of taking antibiotics. However, it is important to take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor to make sure the bacteria are completely expelled from your body.
After undergoing complete treatment, your doctor will perform a number of tests to ensure that bacteria are no longer in your body.
Treatment Cost for Diphtheria
There are several types of diphtheria treatments available. Treatment cost may vary depending on the doctor and hospital of your choice.
To find out the estimated costs of diphtheria treatment at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Diphtheria
Before treatment with antibiotics was available, diphtheria affected many children. Currently, diphtheria is not only treatable but also preventable with vaccines. Usually, the diphtheria vaccine is combined with vaccines for tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).
In the United States, there are four types of vaccines used to prevent diphtheria, namely DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td. Each of these vaccines can prevent diphtheria and tetanus, and DTaP and Tdap can prevent pertussis. The DTaP vaccine is given for children and the Tdap vaccine for adolescents and adults.
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines are one of the immunizations given in childhood. This vaccination consists of a series of five injections that are usually given in the arm or thigh at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years
Diphtheria vaccine is very effective in preventing bacterial infection that causes diphtheria, but there may be side effects. Some children may experience low-grade fever, fussiness, drowsiness, or pain in the area of the body that was given the DTaP injection. It is best to ask your doctor what can be done to relieve these side effects.
Home Remedies for Diphtheria
You need plenty of rest to recover from diphtheria. If your heart is affected after suffering from diphtheria, you should avoid any physical activity to maintain your heart health. You may need to get nutrition through fluids and foods with soft texture for a while if you experience pain and difficulty swallowing food.
You should also isolate yourself at home to help prevent the spread of infection. It is important to wash your hands regularly with soap to limit the spread of infection with family members at home.
After your doctor states you are cured of diphtheria, you need a complete diphtheria vaccine to prevent this disease from recurring. Unlike some other infections, having had diphtheria does not guarantee that you will not catch it in the future. You can become infected with diphtheria more than once if you are not fully immunized.
If you are not sure if you or your child have received vaccinations for diphtheria, you can use Smarter health’s free service to make an appointment with a doctor at home and abroad.
Have more questions about Diphtheria? Write your comment in the section below!