This is a specific infections disease, which manifests itself in a peculiar ulceration of the throat and great general prostration and fever. The throat is covered with a dark- grey membrane, which emits an exceedingly offensive odour. The contagious principle is contained in the breath and in the expectoration containing fragments of the membrane.
Diagnosis.-Diphtheria is distinguished from all other throat affections by the presence of a dirty grey, tough coating on the mucous membrane of the throat. This coating contains numerous micro-organisms and a specific one termed the bacillus of Klebs- Loeffler.
There is no other kind of sore throat which is accompanied and followed by such grave constitutional symptoms. The heart is very frequently affected, and almost always weakened temporarily; and for a long time after the throat is well there is a danger of paralysis coming on. This may affect any of the muscles of the body, and sometimes attacks the heart.
General Treatment.-The great object is to keep the patient nourished, and support the strength, Strong beef-tea and milk, when it is tolerated, should be given at frequent intervals. Patients suffering from diphtheria should never be raised up from the recumbent position, except with greatest care, as the prostration is so great it may bring on fainting which may prove fatal.
Medicines.-(Every few minutes to every hour or longer, according to the urgency of the symptoms.)
Great prostration; patient cannot bear to be moved; complains of pains everywhere when moved; white tongue; dry mouth; thirst for large quantities of water.
Restless; complains of sore throat, which looks highly inflamed; pupils large; drowsy, but unable to sleep; starts suddenly out of sleep.
After Belladonna; worse after sleep; patches on tonsils, worse the left side; croupy symptoms; patient cannot bear to have anything touch the neck and throat.
Lycopodium 6.- Throat brownish red; worse right side; worse from swallowing warm drinks; nose stopped up; patient cannot breathe with mouth shut; keeps mouth constantly open, slightly protruding the tongue, which gives a silly expression; unsteady step; on awaking from short nap he is cross; kicks; is naughty (if a child); or jumps up in bed, stares about, and knows nobody, seemingly dreaming with open eyes; frequent jerkings of lower limbs, mostly with a groan, awake or slumbering; great fear of being left alone.
-Restless; wants to be carried about; wakes complaining of pain in throat; bloody saliva runs out of mouth during sleep; parotid glands good deal swollen; transparent jelly-like discharges form bowels at stool or afterwards.
-Great debility from the beginning; membranes at once assume dirty greyish colour, or there is great oedema of soft palate and much puffiness round the eyes; pain in ears on swallowing; an itching, stinging eruption on skin; sensation of weakness in larynx; numbness of feet and hands and even paralysis. (Apis is incompatible with Rhus, and should not be given immediately after it, nor Rhus after Apis. )
-Pain in throat worse when not swallowing; relieved by swallowing, membrane more abundant on right side; much prostration; sensation of lump or marble in the throat.
Tongue coated thickly, white or yellowish; much salivation; glands swollen; much membrane on tonsils.
Mercurius cyan. 30.-
Is specific in many cases where there is intense vital depression along with the other symptoms.