Respiratory diphtheria can damage the heart muscle.
Complications from respiratory diphtheria (when the bacteria infect parts of the body involved in breathing) may include:
- Airway blockage
- Damage to the heart muscle (myocarditis)
- Nerve damage (polyneuropathy)
- Loss of the ability to move (paralysis)
- Kidney failure
For some people, respiratory diphtheria can lead to death. Even with treatment, about 1 in 10 patients with respiratory diphtheria die. Without treatment, up to half of patients can die from the disease.