It is important for you to know and know the characteristics of diphtheria, because this disease is often mistaken for a common sore throat. In fact, diphtheria is a dangerous bacterial infection that can spread easily and quickly.
Diphtheria is a disease caused by infection with Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria that attacks the nose and throat. Diphtheria generally affects children under 5 years old and elderly people over 60 years old.
In addition, diphtheria can also occur in adults who have never received diphtheria immunization as well as people with poor nutritional conditions or living in areas with an unhealthy environment.
Recognizing the Characteristics of Diphtheria
Symptoms or characteristics of diphtheria can vary from person to person. There are people who do not experience any symptoms when infected with diphtheria, there are also those who only show mild flu-like characteristics.
The most characteristic feature of diphtheria is the appearance of a thick, grayish layer in the throat and tonsils called pseudomembranes. Along with these symptoms, there are several other symptoms that can occur, namely:
Cough and hoarseness
Mild fever or chills
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
Difficult to swallow
In addition to the nose and throat, there are also types of diphtheria that occur on the skin. Its characteristics are reddish skin, raised pus-filled spots, and boils appear on the skin. When the diphtheria has healed, the spots and boils on the skin will also disappear within 2-3 months.
Diphtheria Must Be Treated Immediately
Although some people experience diphtheria with mild symptoms, this disease cannot be underestimated. If left untreated, diphtheria can cause various complications, such as:
As mentioned above, diphtheria can lead to the formation of a pseudomembrane layer. This thick layer is formed from dead cells, bacteria, and hardened inflammatory substances. If not treated immediately, the pseudomembrane can spread to the airway and interfere with the entry of air.
Toxins from the germs that cause diphtheria can also cause nerve disorders, especially the throat nerves. This can make it difficult for you to swallow or speak.
In addition to the throat nerves, nerves in other organs can also be damaged by this poison, such as the nerves that help control the respiratory muscles. If these nerves are damaged by toxins from the diphtheria bacteria, the respiratory muscles can become paralyzed. As a result, breathing cannot take place without the aid of a device.
Toxins from the bacteria that cause diphtheria can also enter the bloodstream, then spread throughout the body and damage tissues. One of them is the heart muscle. If the poison gets to the heart muscle, myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle will occur. This condition can lead to heart failure, even sudden death.
Diphtheria is generally treated with antibiotics and antitoxin injections to neutralize toxins from diphtheria germs in the body. However, diphtheria remains at risk of recurrence even after treatment, especially if it occurs in children under the age of 15 years. So, prevention is certainly better than cure.
To prevent diphtheria and its complications, carry out DPT immunization (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) for infants and toddlers which can be obtained through government programs. Diphtheria immunization for adults can also be done if you have never gotten vaccinated before.
If you find the characteristics of diphtheria, either in children or adults, you should immediately consult a pediatrician or internist to get the right examination and treatment.