Overview on tetanus

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Tetanus is a deadly infection involving the nervous system that is brought about by the Clostridium tetani bacteria. The condition can occur if these bacterial spores enter the body via an open wound that was exposed to contaminated soil. The bacteria release a poison called tetanospasmin into the body that blocks the nerve signals from the spinal cord that controls the muscles.

The condition causes painful spasms that can be strong enough to rip the muscles and even lead to fractures. It can also lead to the impairment of breathing by constricting the intercostal muscles in the chest wall.

What are the indications?

The indications of tetanus start between 7-21 days after being exposed to the bacteria. The common symptoms include the following:

Overview on tetanus
Muscle spasms in the jaw, chest, back, abdomen and neck.
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw, chest, back, abdomen and neck
  • Arching of the back due to the muscle spasms
  • Muscle tears and fractures due to the painful muscle contractions
  • Pain or soreness at the wound site

Risk factors

  • Poor hygiene
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Not immunized against tetanus
  • Having an open wound from an object exposed to contaminated soil

Management

The doctor will prescribe medications to fight the infection such as antibiotics or recommend measures to get rid of the poison in the body.

Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment for tetanus and considered highly effective. The individual should carefully follow the treatment plan as instructed to prevent any recurrence.

The commonly used antibiotics include clindamycin, erythromycin, penicillin and metronidazole.

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