Tetanus: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, & Treatment

Tetanus: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, & Treatment

Tetanus is a very serious disease caused by the toxins released by bacteria. It basically affects your nervous system, leading to painful and severe muscle contractions. It mainly shows its effect on the neck muscles and your jaw. Tetanus has one major drawback, it can interfere with your ability to breathe and can threaten your life. Tetanus is also known as “lockjaw. Doctors say that there is no particular cure for tetanus. Treatment of tetanus mainly focuses on managing complications until the effects of the tetanus toxins resolve. In this section, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of tetanus. We will further discuss the risk factors and treatment of tetanus as well.

Causes of Tetanus

Tetanus is caused by a toxin made by spores of bacteria, Clostridium tetani, found in soil, dust, and animal feces. When the spore enters a wound, they grow into bacteria that can produce a powerful toxin, tetanospasmin. The toxin impairs the nerve that primarily controls your motor muscles. The toxin released can cause stiffness and spasms.

It is said that all the cases reported for tetanus have one thing in common, the people affected with tetanus never really received vaccinations against tetanus.

One most important thing to note in this case is that tetanus is non-contagious. It cannot be spread from one person to another.

Symptoms of Tetanus

Symptoms of tetanus can be seen after several days after the bacteria toxin enters into the body.

Signs and symptoms of tetanus include:

  • Spasms and stiffness in jaw muscles
  • Stiffness of your neck muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Stiffness of your abdominal muscles
  • Painful body spasms lasting for several minutes, typically triggered by minor occurrences, such as draft, loud noise, light, or physical touch.

Other side symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate

These are some of the signs and symptoms of tetanus.

Risk Factors of Tetanus

There are some factors which can increase your risk of developing tetanus:

  • Failure to get vaccinated
  • An injury which lets spores into the wound
  • A foreign body such as a nail or splinter

However, tetanus cases have been reported from the following:

  • Puncture Wounds
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Compound fractures
  • Burns
  • Surgical wounds
  • Injection drug use
  • Animal or insect bites
  • Infected foot ulcers
  • Dental infections
  • Infected umbilical stumps in newborns born of inadequately vaccinated mothers.

These are the risk factors of tetanus which can escalate the risk of developing it.

Treatment of Tetanus

Any patient affected with tetanus must receive tetanus immunoglobin as soon as possible. Tetanus immunoglobin has antibodies which can kill Clostridium tetani. It is injected into a vein and provides short-term protection against tetanus.

Patients who are allergic to penicillin or metronidazole may be given tetracycline instead.

In treating muscle spasms and stiffness, patients may be prescribed:

  • Anticonvulsants, such as diazepam, relax the muscles to prevent spasm and stiffness.
  • Muscle relaxants, such as baclofen, suppress nerve signals from the brain to the spinal cord, resulting in releasing muscle tension.
  • Neuromuscular blocking agents block the signal from nerves to muscle fibers and are useful in controlling muscle spasms. They include pancuronium and vecuronium.
  • Surgery
  • Nutrition
  • Ventilator

These are the causes and symptoms of tetanus. We have also included the risk factors and symptoms of tetanus in this section. For more health and beauty-related tips, follow this section closely.