Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection which is characterized by spasms and stiffness in the muscles. It is caused by bacteria named Clostridium tetani. It is also known as lockjaw because it causes contractions of muscles of the jaw. It can develop in any person at any age. Headache, fever, and diarrhea are the early symptoms of the disease. The infection sometimes causes serious breathing difficulties that can be life-threatening. Treatment of tetanus is available, but it is not always effective. As there is no cure for tetanus, prevention through tetanus vaccine is a better option.
Can Tetanus Be Cured?
Tetanus can be treated with present medical ways. But it is not always effective and curative. So, prevention of tetanus is better than cure. Tetanus cannot be cured.
Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects the nervous system and brain. The bacterial spores are found in soil, manure and other materials in the environment. This infection enters the body through cuts or wounds, which are punctured by contaminated nails, tools; animal or insect bites, knives, and pointed instruments. The bacterial spores release neurotoxins in the wound or umbilicus after non-sterile delivery that interferes with the nerves that are mean to control the movement of the muscle.
Newborn infants are at highest risk of contracting the infection if their umbilical cord is cut through dirty razor, knives or other instruments or dirty hands of delivering person.
Tetanus is common in hot and damp climates with rich soil, especially in densely populated areas.
The symptoms of tetanus usually appear after 3-21 days of infection. The early symptoms are fever, headache, and diarrhea. It starts with muscle symptoms in the jaw.
Then, it spreads to the muscles of the neck, throat, chest, and back resulting in contractions. In severe conditions, it causes back arching of the spine.
Tetanus can be treated by following ways-
- A wound is thoroughly cleaned soon after injury – It is the wound in which there is huge damage to the tissues or removal of a considerable amount of tissues.
- Tetanus immunoglobulin is injected into the vein. It is a short-term vaccine against tetanus. It is usually given to pregnant and breastfeeding ladies as they are considered safe.
- Antibiotics such as penicillin or metronidazole are prescribed to control the multiplication and reproduction of the bacteria.
- Anticonvulsants like diazepam or Valium are given to control anxiety and muscular spasm. It usually works as a sedative.
- Muscle relaxants like baclofen, are also effective to suppress the signals of nerves from the brain to the spinal cord, thus muscular contractions are reduced more.
- Neuromuscular blocking agents like pancuronium and vecuronium are also a good choice for treatment as they block the signals from nerves to the fibers of muscle in order to control muscle spasms.
- Surgical removal of dead or contaminated tissues or foreign materials in large and tetanus-prone wounds is done for better results.
- A high-calorie diet is advised to the patient as the muscles activity is increased highly in tetanus.
- Ventilator support is required in the cases where there is the spasm of vocal cords and respiratory muscles.
Immunization is the best way to prevent tetanus. DTP and DT vaccines are given to young children and infants and Td to adults to prevent tetanus. In many countries, tetanus is given in a combination of other vaccines like diphtheria, pertussis, vitamin and Hemophilus influenza type b.
Neonates are immunized by immunizing the pregnant mother (antibodies are transferred to the fetus through the placenta) or after pregnancy with tetanus toxoid. This helps to prevent tetanus in both the mother and the baby.
Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that leads to contractions of the muscles of body. It influences the transmission of motor information to the muscles from the nervous system. It cannot be cured completely, so its prevention through vaccines in every decade of life is a better option.
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- How Is Tetanus Prevented?
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- Is It OK To Get a Tetanus Shot Before 10 Years of Age?
- What Happens If You Get A Tetanus Shot Too Soon?
- What Are The Side Effects of Tetanus Shot & Amp; How Long Do They Last?
- When Should I Get A Tetanus Shot?