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Tetanus: symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

When an object accidentally injures a person, especially when it is dirty or rusty, it is often suggested that they be taken to the ER for a tetanus shot. This is due to the possibility of contracting a disease called Tetanus, which is very serious, since the symptoms are pretty dramatic, and there is the possibility that the life of the affected person is put at risk, for which said the reaction to the wounds forms part of first aid protocol for damages.

In this FastlyHealarticle, we will talk about Tetanus: symptoms and treatment, in addition to explaining what this condition is due to, how it is transmitted, and how you can prevent it.

What is Tetanus

Tetanus is a disease characterized mainly by causing muscle spasms and stiffness throughout the body due to the entry of a bacteria into the body, known as Clostridium tetaniHowever, it is not the presence of the bacteria itself that causes the disease, but the toxins it releases.

When the bacteria enter the body, it releases from the site of entry a toxin called tetanospasmin, which travels through the bloodstream to reach the nerve endings, mainly in the spinal cord, where it alters the ability of the nerves to control nerve impulses. And therefore sends excessive contraction signals to muscles throughout the body, causing symptoms.

Tetanus: contagion and transmission

The bacteria that cause Tetanus are usually found in the soil and on the surface of dirty objects, especially metals that are in the process of oxidation, such as nails, knives, and tools, and can also be found in animal feces, so which is more likely to find the bacteria in field environments by the combination of these two factors. Infection through an animal bite is also a possibility.

The Clostridium tetani enter the body when the person affected suffers a cut or puncture any of these contaminated items from which the bacteria are in the wound and start to produce the toxin. The deeper the damage and the closer it is to elements of the central nervous system, such as the spinal cord, the more likely the disease is to develop and the more severe the symptoms.

Symptoms of Tetanus

After the bacteria enter the body, it can take a considerable time until the first symptoms appear, usually between 5 to 15 days, but can be as short as 24 hours or as long as several months.

The initial symptoms of Tetanus are as follows:

  • Insomnia.
  • Back pain.
  • Difficulty in walking.
  • Difficulty to swallow.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Contraction of the jaw muscles, known as lockjaw, is the most characteristic symptom of the disease.

In the more advanced stages of Tetanus, the affected person begins to have muscle contractures that start in the head and work down towards the extremities. The contraction of the muscles of the neck, trunk, abdomen, and limbs produces an arched posture known as opisthotonos. Contractions, in general, are painful, intermittent, and produced by small stimuli such as light or noise. In advanced stages, they are accompanied by sweating, fever, and changes in heart rate and blood pressure.

Treatment for Tetanus

To diagnose this condition, it is necessary to know the patient’s history, mainly a possible recent wound that has served as a method of entry for the bacteria. Lockjaw is a very characteristic element of Tetanus, and, in general, its presence diagnoses it.

Although Tetanus in the mildest cases can heal on its own and without leaving sequelae, it is essential to administer a three-phase treatment performed simultaneously:

  • The first phase consists of eliminating the bacteria from the wound where it entered through the administration of antibiotics such as penicillin and the surgical removal of damaged tissues and foreign bodies, as well as the proper cleaning of the wound.
  • The second phase neutralizes the toxin that causes the symptoms through immunization with vaccines that combat said toxin.
  • The third phase involves treating the symptoms, mainly painful spasms, and controlling the airways by applying muscle relaxants such as Diazepam. Those affected usually stay in quiet rooms where there are no stimuli that produce the contractions.

Tetanus prevention

Tetanus can be prevented by getting vaccines that start early and continue for life.

The first vaccine is given in the second month after birth and is usually applied together with other vaccines such as antibordetella pertussis, diphtheria, and anti-influenza. This vaccine is repeated twice within two months and is reinforced at 2 and 5 years; then, it will be supported every ten years. Pregnant women should also be vaccinated at the sixth month of gestation.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Tetanus: symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Immune System category .

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