Doctor's Notes on Diphtheria
Diphtheria is a contagious infectious disease that primarily affects the upper respiratory tract (respiratory diphtheria). Vaccination programs have significantly decreased the incidence of diphtheria but serious outbreaks may occur when vaccination rates decline. Respiratory diphtheria in U.S. is currently a rare disease that has largely been eliminated through effective vaccination programs.
Early symptoms of respiratory diphtheria may be similar to a viral upper respiratory infection, but symptoms of diphtheria become more severe with the progression of the disease. Symptoms of respiratory diphtheria may include sore throat, fever, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, feeling unwell (malaise), weakness, headache, cough, nasal discharge (that may contain pus or blood-tinged fluid), enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and neck swelling (producing a "bull neck" appearance), and difficulty breathing. Later symptoms respiratory diphtheria may include an adherent thick, gray membrane (pseudomembrane) forming over the lining tissue of the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity. If this pseudomembrane extends into the larynx and trachea it can obstruct the airway and result in suffocation and death.
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Coughs (Acute and Chronic)A cough is a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. A chronic or persistent cough may signal certain lung conditions that should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Common causes of coughs include infection, allergies, lung disease, medications, and GERD (reflux). Acute coughs are categorized as infectious or non-infectious. Chronic cough (persistent cough) have a variety of causes and should be evaluated by physician. Treatment of cough, acute cough, chronic or persistent cough depends on the cause of the cough.
CT Scan (CAT Scan, Computerized Axial Tomography)What is a CT scan? Computerized tomography scans (CT scans) are important diagnostic tools for a variety of medical conditions. Some areas of the body frequently evaluated by CT scans include the brain, neck, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and sinuses. The CT scan process uses X-rays and a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the body.
Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)An electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) is a tool used to assist in diagnosing heart diseases and conditions, for example, atrial and ventricular fibrillation, heart attacks, and heart failure.
Fever (in Adults)A fever is a body temperature of 100.4 F or greater. A fever may be caused by a virus, bacteria, fungus, blood clot, tumor, drug, or the environment. Treatment of fever in adults usually involves ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin.
Fever in ChildrenFever is defined as a rectal temperature over 100.4 F or 38 C. Fever isn't life-threatening unless it is persistently high - greater than a 107 F rectal temperature. Fever is usually caused by an infection. Treatment focuses on controlling the temperature, preventing dehydration, and monitoring for serious illness.
Sore ThroatSore throats are generally named for the anatomical site affected, such as: the pharynx, tonsils, adenoids, larynx, and epiglottis. Sore throat treatment depends on the cause, infection, viral, or fungal.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.