Tetanus is a dangerous form of bacterial infection. The bacteria typically enter the body via a wound in the skin. The bacteria generate a toxin that irritates the nerves and causes uncontrollable muscle spasms. The condition can be dangerous among the elderly and young children.
What are the indications?
The symptoms might arise 3 days up to 3 weeks after an injury. The initial sign is general rigidity of the jaw due to the muscle spasms.
Other accompanying symptoms include:
- Stiff neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Rigidity of the abdominal muscles
- Rapid pulse rate
- Increased sweating
Management of tetanus
The treatment typically includes the following:
- At first, thorough cleansing of the wound
- A shot of the immune globulin to prevent the infection from worsening
- Tetanus booster shot to prevent future infection
In some instances, in which the symptoms are serious, the treatment might include:
- Muscle relaxants to lessen the muscle spasms
- Using a mechanical ventilator if breathing assistance is necessary
- Physical therapy to prevent muscle contracture which is permanent shortening or tightness of the muscles and tendons due to the continuous spasms.
How long will it last?
The muscle spasms might last for several weeks. It can take weeks or even months for the impaired nerves to grow back. During this period, the individual will continue to experience muscle spasms and difficulty breathing.
It is vital to undergo care during this recovery phase at a healthcare facility where the healthcare professionals are experienced in managing cases of tetanus.
Remember that the condition can be deadly especially among young children and the elderly, but most can recover completely. Furthermore, those who are at highest risk for death include the elderly and those diagnosed with diabetes. Therefore, it is vital to be updated with the tetanus shots.