Complications from diphtheria may include:
- Blocking of the airway
- Damage to the heart muscle (myocarditis)
- Nerve damage (polyneuropathy)
- Loss of the ability to move (paralysis)
- Lung infection (respiratory failure or pneumonia)
For some people, diphtheria can lead to death. Even with treatment, about 1 in 10 diphtheria patients die. Without treatment, up to half of patients can die from the disease.
Page last reviewed: December 17, 2018