Tetanus is a severe bacterial infection that is characterized by painful muscle spasms. This is as a result of the toxin produced by tetanus causing bacteria, which affects the nervous system. A tetanus infection should not be taken lightly because it can lead to death. The clostridium bacteria that causes the illness is commonly present in soil, manure, saliva, and dust.
Since tetanus is widespread, vaccinations against the infection are administered from time to time across all age groups. It is not a communicable disease and one can only contract it via a wound or burn. There is no cure for tetanus, and the only way to prevent one from succumbing to the infection is by getting a tetanus shot vaccine. But, when is the right time to get the shot?
The Tetanus Infection
One can get a tetanus infection when they cut themselves with a knife, step on a nail on the ground or from an animal bite, to mention a few. Once your skin is exposed and the bacteria gets access to your inner body, it multiplies and releases toxins – tetanolysin and tetanospasmin. These tetanus toxins have detrimental effects on viable tissue and nervous system, which leads to muscle spasms and stiffness. The toxins spread across the body through the bloodstream.
The incubation period of a tetanus infection can last for as short as 24 hours to as long as months. However, on average, the symptoms will start manifesting over a period of 7 to 10 days. If the bacteria toxins have spread to further sites such as the central nervous system, then the incubation period tends to be longer. On the other hand, the incubation period may be shorter when the infection is localized to around the site of injury only.
When Should I Get a Tetanus Shot?
A tetanus shot is advised precisely within 72 hours as a way of preventing an infection after an injury. The bacteria does not take immediate effect and a tetanus shot is meant to boost the antibody response against an incoming infection. Whenever you experience an injury and the wound is deep, then it is important to visit a doctor for tetanus treatment. This is because deep wounds create an opportunity for the tetanus bacteria to enter your body and bloodstream. Once the bacteria is in your body, then you start exhibiting certain symptoms which are as a result of tetanus toxins invading your nervous system.
You should also seek medical advice in cases where your injury has foreign objects or dirt. In addition to that, if you’ve never had a tetanus vaccination before or it has been several years since your last shot, then make sure you visit a doctor for further advice. If you experience the following tetanus symptoms, then it is advisable that you get a tetanus shot. They include:
- Muscle stiffness in the jaw, neck, arms, legs, and abdomen
- Locking of the jaw – one is unable to open their mouth and have troubles swallowing
- Muscle spasms around the face which makes one unable to smile properly
- Restlessness and irritability
- Sweating and fever
- Increased heartbeat rate
Tetanus can be a fatal infectious disease if one does not take action to prevent the disease from spreading throughout the body. Since there is no cure for the disease, the best way to fight against tetanus is by receiving tetanus shots. Babies get a tetanus shot when they are 2, 4, and 6 months old and also when they are between 15 to 18 months old. Children below the age of five receive diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) shot and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (TdaP) vaccination booster at 11 or 12 years of age.
Adults are advised to get tetanus and diphtheria (TD) vaccination booster after a ten-year period. If you’ve never been vaccinated against tetanus or aren’t fully vaccinated, then a full course vaccination of five doses is given appropriately. Otherwise, a tetanus immunoglobulin (TIG) is efficient in killing tetanus causing bacteria and alleviating symptoms of a tetanus infection.
- When is Tetanus Shot Given & How Long Does it Last?
- Side Effects of Tetanus Shot
- How Soon Should you get a Tetanus Shot after an Injury?
- 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 & How Long Do they Last?