The term diphtheria is derived from a Greek word meaning leather. It refers to a severe infection, generally affecting the upper respiratory passages. It is essentially a disease of children and occurs very rarely in adult life.
Diphtheria is highly contagious and is caused by certain germs occasionally found in the throat of apparently normal persons. The highest incidence of this disease occurs in the cool season, but it can occur at any time. The incubation period is usually from four to six days.
Symptoms ( Diphtheria treatment )
The onset of diphtheria is mild and often uncertain. The disease often like tonsillitis in the early stages. There may be fever ranging from 101 degrees to 104 F and soreness of the throat. The patient feels weak and depressed. A membrane appears generally on one tonsil and in rare cases, on both of the tonsils. The gradual increase in size. It may be thick or thin, grey or brownish in color and is surrounded by a zone of red inflammation.
The membrane may be restricted to tonsils, or it may involve the whole of the back of the throat and soft palate. It may extend upward into the nose or downward into the larynx. Diphtheria can also occur without the false membrane with tissues being red and swollen and the bacilli being present. The glands of the neck are usually enlarged, and when the nose is involved, they increase rapidly in size.
The patient is very low in spirits and rapidly become anemic and pale. Unless treated properly, he may die from steadily increasing debility or from the rapid weakening of the heart due to toxins of diphtheria. In favorable cases, the symptoms gradually subside and the membranes slowly disappear. The duration of the disease ranges from a few days to two or three weeks.
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Complications ( Diphtheria treatment )
Children with large tonsils and adenoids are more susceptible to diphtheria, especially if they have not been given the DPT shots in infancy. Greatest danger arises from blockage of the windpipe due to the infection in the throat. This causes strangling. The disease may also damage the heart, the brain, and the kidneys. Diphtheria germs produce powerful toxins or poisons which damage the nearby cells and even affect distant organs, such as the kidneys. The toxins are carried to these areas by the bloodstream. Heart failure may occur due to weakened muscle fibers which are unable to contract as they should.
Causes ( Diphtheria treatment )
Diphtheria is caused by an organism known as Corynebacterium diphtheria. This bacterium multiplies in the throat or nose. Droplets and discharges from the throat of an infected person spread the disease to susceptible persons. This is the major mode of spread of the infection. Sometimes, milk and similar substances also serve as vehicles for the spread of this disease.
Thus, the immediate cause of diphtheria, according to medical views, is germ infection. However, no person can catch this disease if he does not have the basis its propagation in his system, in the form of morbid matter and toxic wastes. Brought about by wrong feeding and unhygienic living.
Treatment ( Diphtheria treatment )
The use of anti-toxins for the treatment of diphtheria may sometimes prove apparently successful. The real treatment for this disease, however, as with all other fevers, is constitutional. The patient should be given only orange juice and water in small quantities. This will provide energy, increase urinary output and promote body resistance against infection, thereby facilitating recovery. A warm-water enema should be administered daily during this period to cleanse the bowels.
The patient of diphtheria should be kept in bed and isolated from others for four to six weeks. To avoid the swallowing of secretion constantly forming in the mouth during the fever, the patient should sleep on his sides and not allowed to lie on his back. Some absorbent cotton may be arranged in the mouth to absorb much of this matter. This can be renewed several times a day as required.
The moist hot inhalation will be beneficial in the treatment of this condition. It will aid greatly in maintaining the resistance of the tissues and facilitates the separation of the membranes. Another valuable application is the wet pack to the throat. The pack should be applied at two-hourly intervals. The procedure is to wring out some linen material in cold water, wrap it two or three times around the affected part and cover it with the flannel material, duly secured. Similar packs may also be applied to the whole trunk.
If the above Diphtheria treatment is faithfully carried out, the fever will runs its course without any trouble and complications or serious after-effects. The patient can then be placed on an all-fruit diet for few days. Thereafter, he may be allowed to gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet. The emphasis should be on whole grain cereals, fresh fruits, and raw or lightly-cooked vegetables.
Garlic and Pineapple
An excellent home remedy for diphtheria is the use of garlic. It constant application by chewing a clove of garlic removes the membranes, reduces temperatures and relieves the patient. About 30gms.of garlic can be used in this way in three or four hours for a week. After the membrane disappears, the same quantity of garlic should be chewed daily. The diphtheria patient has no taste or smell and merely finds the garlic hot.
The juice of fresh pineapple is considered another valuable remedy. This juice can be given to the patient in small quantities at frequent intervals. This will help remove the diphtheria membrane as well as deposits on the throat so that the patient will feel better.