Tetanus Symptoms, Cause, and Vaccination

Tetanus Symptoms, Cause, and Vaccination

Jun 01, 2022

What is Tetanus?

Clostridium tetani are the chief cause of tetanus, and they enter the body through a cut or wound. The bacterium can lead to muscle contractions, spasms, and stiffness, especially in the jaw and neck muscles— lockjaw.

Tetanus can be life-threatening, and you may need to visit an emergency room near you for proper treatment. It is worth noting that tetanus does not have a cure, but the doctor will manage the symptoms until the bacteria clears.

What Causes Tetanus?

Clostridium tetani survive in a dormant state in soil and animal feces. This essentially “shut down” bacteria is only reactivated when they find a place they can thrive.

When the bacteria enter a wound, they’re awakened and start dividing, releasing a toxin called tetanospasmin, which inhibits the nerves in our body that control muscle contraction.

What are the Tetanus Symptoms?

The incubation period of tetanus occurs between 3 to 21 days, but the signs and symptoms appear after ten days. Tetanus can be classified into three:

  • Generalized tetanus

The symptoms begin gradually and worsen over two weeks. The symptoms include painful muscle spasms, jaw rigidity, tension muscles in the lips, difficulty swallowing, and rigid abdominal muscles. As tetanus progresses, it leads to seizure-like spasms for a few minutes. The neck, arm, legs, and back arch become rigid, and the fists clench. This rigidity in the neck and abdomen can affect your breathing.

  • Localized tetanus

Another uncommon tetanus type result causes muscle spasms around the wound site. Although it is a mild form, it can progress to generalized tetanus.

  • Cephalic tetanus

Cephalic tetanus, a rare form, is caused by a head wound and leads to weakened facial muscles. It also progresses to the generalized form.

What is the Tetanus Treatment?

Tetanus has no cure, but the doctor will manage the symptoms. You may need to visit an ER near you to manage the symptoms to prevent any complications.

The treatment consists of wound care and supportive care to manage the symptoms.

  • Wound care

Wound care involves removing dirt, debris, or foreign objects that harbor bacteria. The doctor will clear dead tissue that could provide an environment for bacteria to grow.

  • Medications

The doctor will prescribe sedatives that will slow down the nervous system to control the muscle spasms. Antibiotics can also fight tetanus bacteria, and medications to regulate involuntary muscle activity.

Supportive therapies can be used to clear the airway and offer breathing assistance.

What is a Tetanus Vaccine?

Immunization is the most recommended form of treatment. A vaccine for tetanus can be given in an injection or as a nasal spray.

The vaccine for tetanus consists of an active ingredient called “tetanospasmin.” This ingredient contains a protein made from the bacteria that cause tetanus and causes the symptoms of this disease.

The vaccine works by triggering your immune system to produce antibodies against tetanospasmin, proteins produced by the bacteria that cause this disease. These antibodies protect and prevent the bacteria and developing symptoms of this disease if you are ever exposed to it again. A doctor may recommend the Tetanus vaccine if you have had surgery or injury with deep puncture wounds or spent time in a dirty environment such as close to the ground or animal waste.

The doctor may also recommend the tetanus vaccine if you did not get primary series as a child and haven’t had a tetanus booster in the last decade. A tetanus vaccine (Tdap) booster shot is recommended every ten years for adults.

What Are the Risks of Tetanus Vaccine?

Tetanus is a serious disease that can lead to death if not treated, and the tetanus vaccine is safe. However, sometimes the vaccine can have mild side effects like soreness, redness, swelling, fatigue, or nausea. It is important to get urgent treatment in Waco, TX if you experience fever or loss of appetite for treatment.

Schedule an Appointment

Visit Express Emergency Room Waco for more information about tetanus and how you can treat the symptoms.

Call Now