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Diphtheria

Decades ago, Diphtheria was a much feared disease as it was contagious and life-threatening. Diphtheria is a contagious, life threatening bacterial infection that attacks the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. It is caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a bacteria that produces toxin (exotoxin) that flows in the bloodstream. Diphtheria spreads from close contact with an infected person, coughing, sneezing and sharing towels. If not treated in time, the toxin spreads throughout the body and can cause paralysis or heart failure. The bacteria can also live in live open wounds.


Diphtheria was a leading cause of death among children in earlier decades but with the introduction of the Diphtheria vaccine, the instances of diphtheria have come down drastically, in developed nations. In countries with poor sanitation and inadequate medical information, the disease still looms large. Diphtheria usually manifests first as sore throat and fever. Then the infection spreads to lymph glands and tonsils too. A person suffering from diphtheria has pain when swallowing and difficulty in breathing. There is fever and hoarseness in voice. The nose and throat cavities are coated with a thick gray covering - a distinctive feature of diphtheria.


A throat swab will help in diagnosis of diphtheria. A patient will be given antitoxin treatment and hospitalized. Antibiotics are administered to fight infection. The patient will be kept in isolation till he recovers from the infection for fear of spreading the disease. Diphtheria can lead to heart and kidney damage if not treated in time. People living in crowded and unsanitary conditions are at higher risk. Children who are undernourished and have not been vaccinated for diphtheria as well as those with compromised immune systems are also at greater risk of diphtheria.

Pharyngitis

When the pharynx is inflamed, it is referred to as a sore throat or Pharyngitis. This condition is a common occurrence when there is any viral upper respiratory infection. In severe cases, Pharyngitis can also be indicative of diphtheria, gonorrhea or HIV. Pharyngitis is usually caused by micro organisms such as Streptococcus, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae cause bacterial pharyngitis. This condition is contagious and is usually noticed in the winter months. Allergies, exposure to smoke and pollutants can cause sore throat and pharyngitis due to postnasal drip. If left untreated, pharyngitis can lead to rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, tonsillitis or pneumonia.


A person suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection such as pharyngitis will have sore throat and difficulty in swallowing. Accompanying fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes in the neck will also be noticed. Other symptoms of pharyngitis include cough, swollen tonsils and post nasal drip. There may be headache and earache. A physician will check the patient's eyes, throat and lymph nodes in the neck. A throat swab culture is done to diagnose the cause of infection. Bacterial infection or strep throat is treated with suitable antibiotics.


  • Adequate rest
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Warm salt water gargle
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Adequate rest
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Warm salt water gargle
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 16, 2017