Diphtheria In Children

Table of contents:

Diphtheria In Children
Diphtheria In Children
Video: Diphtheria In Children
Video: Bacterial Infections in Childhood | Diphtheria | Pathology Video Lectures | V-Learning 2023, February

Diphtheria in children

Diphtheria is a serious infectious disease caused by a bacterium (Corynebacterium diphtheriae) with firmly adhering coatings on the tonsils, the pharynx, larynx and throat mucosa. The infection occurs mainly in the winter months. The disease has become rare in Western Europe as children are vaccinated in their first year of life.


  • Continue reading
  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • ">How is the transfer carried out?


  • ">">How to prevent diphtheria


  • What are the symptoms?
  • ">">How is the diagnosis made and how is treatment carried out?


  • What complications can arise?
  • Whom can I ask?


How is the transfer carried out?

The transmission takes place through droplet infection (especially sneezing, coughing, speaking). In countries with a high standard of hygiene, usually only people with inadequate vaccination protection become ill.

How to prevent diphtheria

Passive immunization with an antiserum is advisable if the disease accumulates, for example within the family. At the same time, active immunization or booster vaccination takes place. The safest form of prevention is the active immunization of all infants. Refreshments are important up to adulthood.

Note The time from infection to the appearance of the first symptoms is two to six days. There is a risk of infection for other people for about two days under antibiotic treatment, and up to four weeks if left untreated.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms are caused by bacterial toxins. After one or two days of flu-like symptoms such as fever, feeling sick, runny nose, cough or hoarseness, various forms of diphtheria can develop. A distinction is made between a local, a progressive and a toxic form.

Local diphtheria includes:

  • Tonsil or pharyngeal diphtheria: Gray-white, thick-greasy, firmly adhering coatings (pseudomembranes) form on the tonsils, uvula and throat. The affected areas often start to bleed even with light stress. In addition, there is a fever, difficulty swallowing, a putrid-sweet halitosis and painful swellings of the angular lymph nodes of the jaw.
  • Nasal diphtheria: It begins like a common runny nose, then a thin, purulent and finally bloody secretion as well as small scraps of plaque at the nasal entrance form. Mostly babies are affected.
  • Larynx diphtheria: The membrane formation usually pulls down from the throat. Hoarseness, voicelessness, barking coughs, breathing noises when inhaling with shortness of breath and threatening suffocation quickly develop.
  • Skin diphtherias: They represent rare, rather harmless special forms, mostly as sharply demarcated ulcers and coverings in the area of ​​the navel, conjunctiva and genital mucosa.

The progressive diphtheria is usually made from a Tonsillendiphtherie. Deposits form in several places and flow together quickly. Complications are more common and cause higher mortality.

The toxic diphtheria develops either from local or forms right from the start with a more severe disease with fever, edema, linings and strong lymphadenopathy.

How is the diagnosis made and how is treatment carried out?

The diagnosis is based on the patient's symptoms. The diagnosis can be confirmed by means of laboratory tests. Penicillin is given over a period of two weeks. Complications and the associated increased mortality can be reduced by using an antitoxin serum immediately. Adequate hydration is also important. If necessary, fever-lowering measures are indicated. Bed rest can be beneficial if the sick child is willing to do so.

What complications can arise?

From around the second week of illness, heart muscle inflammation, general weakness, paralysis of the soft palate, the throat, eye and respiratory muscles as well as kidney and liver damage, etc. can occur. These complications can lead to permanent damage. Five to 20 percent of those affected die.

Whom can I ask?

As soon as the first signs of illness appear, you should take your child to a doctor specializing in general medicine or paediatrics.

Popular by topic