Diphtheria is an acute infectious disease that is caused by toxin-producing bacteria known as corynebacterium diphtheria. It affects the mucus lining of the upper respiratory tract, usually the tonsils, throat and the nose. A characteristic mark of diphtheria is the thick grey-coated layer found at the back of the throat. If this layer is removed, it will bleed. The bacteria releases a toxin that is absorbed in the body and capable of causing injury to the heart, kidneys, nervous system and liver.
Diphtheria is a disease that typically affects children. The bacteria are spread through skin to skin contact, respiratory secretions and from skin to the respiratory tract by hands of an infected person. The disease is usually common among those who live in crowded places.
Symptoms of diphtheria
- The first symptom of the disease is hoarseness and soreness in the throat.
- White or gray spots that can be found at the back of the throat, nasal mucus membrane and the tonsils. These spots combine together to form a thin veil that appears like a membrane that becomes thick and grey in color and spreads to the throat and the tonsils.
- Any attempt to scrape the grey membrane will result to bleeding.
- The neck is swollen while the lymph nodes of the neck becomes enlarged
- A low grade fever
- The eyes turn red in color
Causes of diphtheria
- Infection of diphtheria can be caused by droplets that are inhaled from a sneeze or cough from an infected person.
- The bacteria can enter the body by using contaminated items such as drinking from an unwashed glass used by an infected person. Once the bacteria has entered the body of a healthy individual, it will take 5-7 days for the symptoms to appear.
- The risk of infection is very high if the immunity of the individual is low or weakened. The infection is likely to spread quickly among people living in crowded places.
Treatment of diphtheria
- The individual who acquired the disease should rest.
- He/she should be isolated until two infections from nose and throat are negative for the diphtheria bacteria.
- Drink one glass of water that is mixed with 1-2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Lemon is a good detoxifying agent and helps kill the bacteria.
- The individual should be encouraged to drink orange juice. Take note that orange juice contains ingredients that can increase the immunity of the body and help the body eliminate the bacteria.
- Eat a soft diet.
- Extract fluid from the bark of a mango and apply it locally on the throat from the outside. It can also be used as a gargle by mixing 10 ml of mango bark juice in a glass of warm water.
- Extract juice from a raw papaya about 1 teaspoon and then mix it with one teaspoon of honey in a glass of water. This can be used for gargling since it helps dissolve the membrane and prevent the infection from spreading.