Corynebacterium diphtheriae is a bacterium that causes an acute infectious disease called diphtheria.


Mucous membranes of the respiratory tract get affected by the bacteria. Skin and lining tissues in the ear, eye, and the genital areas are also affected.

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It is characterized by sore throat, fever, swollen glands and weakness. At the back of throat a thick grey material is formed and block windpipe resulting in difficulty in breathing.

Diphtheria was once referred to as “strangling angel of children” as it was a leading cause of death of children. With the development of diphtheria vaccine its incidence has decreased significantly.
Age/sex prevalence of diptheria

Diphtheria is a disease of childhood and it usually affects children below the age of 12 years. Infants are more commonly affected between 6-12 months.
Men and women both sexes are affected equally.

Races affected by diptheria

No racial predilections are noticed in cases of diphtheria all over the world.

Causes of diphtheria

The diphtheria is caused by bacterium Coryne bacterium diphtheria and it spreads via three routes:

• Droplets of infected person.
• Contaminated personal and household items..

Once infected, dangerous substances called toxins, produced by the bacteria, can spread through your bloodstream to other organs, such as the heart, and cause significant damage.

Risk factors are crowded environments, poor hygiene, and lack of immunization.

Diphtheria Signs and Symptoms

• A sore throat and hoarseness
• Swollen lymph nodes in neck
• Painful swallowing
• A thick, gray membrane on throat and tonsils
• Nasal discharge
• Difficulty in breathing
• Fever and chills
• Malaise

Investigations of diphtheria

Physical examination and direct observation of mouth helps in diagnosis. A pseudo-membrane in the throat, enlarged lymph glands, and swelling of the neck or larynx are observed.

Tests used may include:
• Throat culture or gram stain to identify Corynebacterium diphtheria
• Electrocardiogram
• Lab test of sample from infected tissue

Treatment of diphtheria

Treatment should be started immediately.

• Diphtheria antitoxin: it neutralizes diphtheria toxin and helps in progression of the disease.
• Antibiotics such as penicillin and erythromycin help in eradicating bacteria.
• Correction of airway blockage is done.

Diet / management of diphtheria

• Bed rest
• Fluid by IV
• Heart monitoring

• Food should be in liquid form.
• Milk
• Chicken broth
• Beef tea
• Egg albumin
• Soft cream toast
• Well cooked rice.

Prognosis of diphtheria

Recovery from this condition is slow.

Diphtheria may be mild or severe. Some patient may not show any symptoms while in others the disease slowly gets worse.

Complications of diphtheria

• Breathing problems. A bacterium that is present in nose and throat produce a toxin that results in formation of tough, gray-colored membrane. This membrane can obstruct breathing.
• Heart damage. The diphtheria toxin may spread through bloodstream and damage other tissues in body, such as heart muscle.
• Nerve damage. The toxin can damage the nerve, especially nerves to the throat, where poor nerve conduction may result in difficulty swallowing.

Differential diagnosis of diptheria

• Herpes Simplex Virus Infection
• Epiglottitis
• Impetigo

Homeopathic treatment for diptheria

• Inflammation of throat.
• Throbbing pain with intense headache and convulsions.

• Feeling as if throat is a large empty cavern.
• Sensation of a hot ball in throat.
• Pains in back, head and limbs.
• Great restlessness.
• Soft palate and fauces becomes inflamed, sore and sensitive.

• Diphtheria of right side spreads to left.
• Warm drinks are soothing to throat.
• Swelling of tonsils and tongue with spasm of swallowing.

Apis Mel
• Given as a preventive or in first stage of diphtheria.
• Progressing diphtheria with little pain.
• Edematous throat and uvula.
• Difficulty in breathing due to swelling of glottis.

• Acrid discharge from nose.
• Dark red or bluish membrane.
• Painful swallowing of the saliva.

• Constriction and contraction of throat.
• Great difficulty in swallowing solid food.
• Painless in sore throat.
• Offensive discharge.

• Raw feeling in throat in evening with hoarseness.
• Deep redness in throat.
• Blood vessels of throat are dilated.
• Tickling in throat during inspiration.

• Burning in throat.
• Great difficulty in swallowing liquids.
• Tenacious mucus.
• Scalding feeling.

• Post diphtheritic paralysis.
• Suited to scrofulous individuals.
• Thick, dark diphtheritic membrane.
• Swallows without pain but fluids are vomited or returned by the nose.

Kali bi 
• Fauces red and inflamed.
• Pseudomembrane formation on tonsils and soft palate.
• Tough and stringy discharge from mouth and throat.
• Profound prostration and soft pulse.

Merc cor
• Intense inflammation of throat.
• Painful swallowing.
• Swelling of uvula.
• Burning pain with great swelling.
• Worse from slight external pressure.

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