Get to know the characteristics of diphtheria, how to deal with diphtheria and prevent it -
29 May 2023

Characteristics of Diphtheria – Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that affects the mucous membranes of the throat and nose. If you want to avoid diphtheria, you should vaccinate regularly, besides protecting yourself, the bacteria will not spread to other people.

Call your doctor immediately if you believe you have the characteristics of diphtheria. If left untreated, diphtheria can cause serious damage to organs such as the kidneys, nervous system and heart.

Therefore, it is very important to seek medical care immediately if you have symptoms of diphtheria or are suspected of having a diphtheria infection. The disease proves to be fatal in about 3 percent of cases that have occurred.

What is Diphtheria and its characteristics

Diphtheria is caused by a type of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae. These bacteria can be spread by contact with objects that have the bacteria on them, such as cups or used cutlery. Diphtheria can be transmitted to you if you are around infected people, especially when they sneeze, cough or blow their nose.

If someone has the characteristics of diphtheria and doesn’t have symptoms, that person can still spread the bacteria for up to six weeks. Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria usually infect the nose and throat of humans.

After an infection occurs in a person, the bacteria will release a dangerous toxin. The poison spreads through your bloodstream and often causes a thick, gray coating to form in areas of the body such as the nose, throat, tongue and airways.

Sometimes, the toxins produced by these bacteria can damage other organs in the body, such as the heart, brain and kidneys. This can lead to potentially life-threatening complications, such as myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, paralysis and kidney failure.

Children in the United States and Europe routinely receive vaccines to prevent diphtheria, so cases of diphtheria are rare in these areas.

However, the characteristics of diphtheria are still common in developing countries like Indonesia, especially in areas that have low immunization rates. In these countries, children under 5 years of age and people over 60 years of age are especially at risk of getting diphtheria.

Also read: “How to Overcome a Clogged Nose”

People are also at increased risk of contracting diphtheria if they are not up to date with diphtheria vaccinations, or have visited a country that does not provide immunizations. Having an immune system disorder such as contracting AIDS, and living in conditions that are unhealthy or too crowded.

What Are the Characteristics of Diphtheria

Signs or characteristics of diphtheria often appear within two to five days of the infection occurring. Some people don’t experience any symptoms, while other people can have mild symptoms that are similar to those of the common cold.

The following are general symptoms that you need to pay attention to if you or another family member turns out to have diphtheria bacteria:

• Fever

• Chills

• Swollen glands in the neck

• Cough that is hard and mucus

• Sore throat

• Bluish skin

• Drooling

• General feeling of restlessness or discomfort

In addition to the general symptoms of Diphtheria, there are also additional symptoms that indicate an ongoing bacterial infection as follows:

• Difficulty breathing or swallowing

• Vision changes

• Slurred speech

• Symptoms of shock include cold, pale skin, excessive sweating and an increased heart rate.

If a person has low hygiene standards or lives in a tropical area, then he is also at risk of developing skin diphtheria or also known as “skin diphtheria”. Cutaneous diphtheria can cause symptoms such as boils and redness in the infected area.

How to Overcome Diphtheria

Knowing the characteristics of diphtheria above will certainly make you panic, don’t panic because you need to do the right treatment and really make the right diagnosis. Do not act rashly and use herbal medicines or drugs that have not been proven effective. It is possible that these unproven drugs actually worsen the condition of people affected by diphtheria.

When you find the above symptoms, consult and treat with a family doctor or the nearest hospital for accurate treatment.

A doctor will physically examine the patient, especially the lymph nodes whether they have swelling. They will also ask about your medical history and the symptoms of the person who has the infection.

Doctors will believe a person has diphtheria if they see a gray coating on the throat or tonsils. If your doctor needs to confirm a diagnosis, they will take a sample of the affected tissue and send it to a laboratory for testing.

If your doctor indicates that there is a possibility of skin diphtheria, the doctor can take a throat culture to confirm the diagnosis.

Diphtheria is a serious condition, so doctors will treat it quickly and intensively. The first step of treatment is an injection of an antitoxin. This drug is used to counteract toxins produced by bacteria.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a possible allergy to antitoxin. They can give you small doses of the antitoxin and gradually switch to higher amounts.

In addition, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics such as erythromycin or penicillin to help clear up the diphtheria infection. During treatment, doctors will let the patient stay in the hospital so they can avoid passing the infection on to other people. They can also prescribe antibiotics for family members or those closest to patients with diphtheria.

Prevention of diphtheria needs to be done from childhood with a special vaccine. This vaccine is called DtaP, the DtaP vaccine is administered once accompanied by other vaccines, namely tetanus and pertussis.

This vaccine will be given to someone five times, especially to children. You need to inject the vaccine in children aged 2 months and then 4 months, followed by 6 months to 18 months and the last is 4 years to 6 years.

The vaccine only lasts for 10 years, so your child will need to be vaccinated again around the age of 12. For adults, it is recommended that you get a diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis shot in combination.

Every 10 years thereafter, you will receive the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine. Make sure you take the right steps with the vaccine for the correct prevention method.

Those are some of the characteristics of diphtheria and how to treat it. Hope it is useful.

Feris Itachi
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