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Tetanus: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment

You should know that there is no cure for tetanus disease.

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Tetanus is a serious disease that affects the nervous system and the disease is caused by a toxin-producing bacterium. The main symptom of tetanus is muscle contractions of your jaw and neck muscles. Tetanus is also known as lockjaw.

If a tetanus case is left untreated, it can be fatal. Moreover, there is no cure for the disease thus the patient and doctors only focus on managing the symptoms and complications of tetanus until the effects of the tetanus toxin resolve.

There are a number of vaccinations for tetanus in the US thus there are a few cases in the country and other developed parts of the world. The disease remains a threat to people who are not vaccinated or live in developing countries. Have a look at the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of tetanus.

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Tetanus: Signs & Symptoms 

According to the doctors of the Mayo Clinic, the common signs and symptoms of tetanus include :

  • Painful muscle spasms

  • Muscle stiffness

  • Rigid jaw

  • Tension in muscles around the lips

  • Painful spasms and rigidity in the neck muscles

  • Difficulty in swallowing

  • Rigid abdominal muscles

  • Fluctuations in blood pressure

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Fever

  • Extreme sweating

Tetanus: Causes 

Tetanus is a disease caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani. The bacterium thrives in a dormant state in soil and animal feces.

When this bacteria enters a wound, it activates a condition good for growth and the cells are awakened. As the cells grow and divide, they release a toxin called tetanospasmin that impairs the nerves in the body that have control over the muscles.

Another major cause of tetanus infection is not being vaccinated or not keeping up with the 10-year booster shots. Other risk factors include (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

  • Cuts or wounds exposed to soil

  • A wound by a nail or splinter

  • A history of immune-suppressing medical conditions

  • Infected skin lesions

  • An infected umbilical cord

  • Shared and unsanitary needles for drug use

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Tetanus: Diagnosis 

There are no specific tests to diagnose or confirm a tetanus infection but doctors can diagnose tetanus by asking about the recent history of cuts, scrapes, wounds, or trauma. They may examine the patient for certain signs and symptoms.

Tetanus: Treatment 

There is no cure for tetanus as mentioned before but there are ways to manage the disease and its symptoms.

  • You must visit the hospital for evaluation and proper care.

  • Your doctor may recommend immediate treatment with tetanus immune globulin (TIG)

  • Proper wound care may provide relief in symptoms

  • Doctors may prescribe medicines or antibiotics to control muscle spasms

Tetanus vaccination that protects against tetanus and other diseases:

  • DTaP and Tdap protect against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis

  • DT provides protection against diphtheria and tetanus

  • Td protects against tetanus and diphtheria

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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