Tetanus is a bacterial infection that is also called as lockjaw. The bacteria responsible for tetanus thrives in saliva, soil, manure and dust. The bacteria are everywhere but due to the effectiveness of vaccination programs, the disease is relatively rare in developed countries.
Many individuals acquire tetanus once the bacteria enter the body via a puncture wound or deep cut, but it can also be acquired from burns, surgery, scrapes, minor cuts, ear infections, crushing wounds, animal bites, dental infections, pregnancy, abortions, tattoos, body piercings, injection drug use and even splinters. Remember that under the right conditions, the tetanus bacteria can trigger infections.
Indications of tetanus
Tetanus can cause severe tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. The condition is called as lockjaw since the muscle in the face and mouth become tight that it is impossible to open the mouth or even swallow. This can result to death due to suffocation.
The usual cause of tetanus starts with spasms of the jaw muscles and eventually progresses to stiffness of the neck, difficulty swallowing, and tight abdominal muscles. Other symptoms include sweating, fever, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.
Laryngospasm or contraction of the vocal cord is a problem that can disrupt with normal breathing. Other possible complications might include broken bones or the spine due to convulsions, hypertension, secondary infections and erratic heart rhythm. Tetanus has a high fatality rate.
When an individual ends up with a wound or cut, it should be thoroughly cleansed. If the vaccinations are updated and had a booster in the past 10 years, the individual is protected.
If the doctor feels that the wound is high-risk, a tetanus booster might be given if it has been more than 5 years since the previous one. If the individual is actually infected by the tetanus bacteria, there is no cure. The treatment involves hospitalization, management of the symptoms and attempts to reduce the complications. The recovery can take up to several months.
The ideal treatment for tetanus is immunization. Being updated with a booster shot every 10 years is the only proven way to prevent the condition. Tetanus is considered uncommon in developed countries but remains a big issue in developing countries all over the world.
Once an individual sustained a cut or wound especially one that is deep or dirty, medical care is needed to ensure that it is properly cleaned and a booster shot might be given.