Patient's Complete Guide to Tetanus

Overview of Tetanus

Tetanus is a serious disease that is very common in most people. It is caused by bacteria toxin termed as Clostridium tetani.

Signs and Symptoms of Tetanus

Tetanus meaning in urdu (کزاز). It is a serious preventable disease caused by a bacterial toxin named Clostridium tetani. The powerful bacteria affect the nervous system that leads to painful muscle contractions mainly on jaws and neck. Difficulty in breathing is a sign of a life-threatening condition in people. It is also referred to as Lockjaw.
Once the bacteria enters into the body through different breaks, wounds or cuts of the skin can spread to other parts of the body to cause tetanus.
Currently, due to the quick availability of the vaccine, it is considered a rare disease in the world's population. It is only reported in those countries which don't have strong immunization programs.

Prevalence of Tetanus

Tetanus was nationally reportable in 1947 when the cases were at its peak. After the introduction of an effective vaccine for tetanus, it declined to 11% today in the world's population. It is more likely to be present in those people who didn't receive a tetanus vaccine or adults who didn't receive up to date 10-year booster shots.
According to the researchers, 1 in 38000 people died from tetanus in 2017 globally.

Types of Tetanus

Tetanus symptoms usually begin to appear within a week after being infected. But the infection remains from 3 days to 3 weeks or even longer.

 Other symptoms of tetanus may include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle stiffness (from jaw to abdomen area)
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Sweating and fever
  • Palpitations and high blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms in the face

It may cause suffocation and death if it is not treated on time.

Risk Factors of Tetanus

Tetanus is an infection caused by the spores of Clostridium tetani bacteria. The bacteria are present everywhere in the environment including soil, dust, and manure. Once the spores enter the body, they change into bacteria to cause infection.

Some common causes of tetanus in most people are listed below:

  • Most women do the foot massaging with sharp objects more prone to have tetanus. These bacteria are also present in the environment and enter into the body through breaks in the skin.
  • An open wounds contaminated with dirt, faeces, or spit (saliva)
  • Puncture wounds occur due to pointed edges like a nail or needle
  • Burns
  • Injuries with dead tissue
  • Surgical procedures
  • Insect bites
  • Dental infections
  • Compound fractures (a break in the bone where it is exposed)
  • Chronic sores and infections
  • Intravenous (IV) drug use
  • Intramuscular injections (shots given in a muscle)

Prevention

Certain factors are more likely to cause tetanus in people:

  • When the vaccination process is not completed on time or not giving up to date booster shots against tetanus
  • A person having an injury that changes tetanus spores into the wound
  • A foreign body, such as a nail or splinter

Health Complications of Tetanus

Once the person is vaccinated, the tetanus toxin is attached to the nerve endings for its recovery. The complete recovery has been done for the growth of new nerve endings, which may take up to several months. If the person is not recovered completely then complications of tetanus infection may arise including

  • Broken bones, anywhere in the body especially spine areas.
  • Blockage of a lung artery (pulmonary embolism) by the formation of blood clots.
  • Death may also occur due to multiple diseases like respiratory failure, pneumonia etc.

Diagnosis

The only way to protect yourself from tetanus is to get yourself vaccinated. Getting vaccinated alone isn’t enough and you need to stay updated when it comes to vaccination as immunity acquired via vaccination isn’t for a lifetime.

Treatment of Tetanus | When to Consult a Doctor

Diagnosis of tetanus depends on the physical examination, medical and immunization history and the signs of muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. There are no laboratory tests specified for diagnosing tetanus.

Healthcare Providers

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Dr. Faisal Sultan

Speciality for Tetanus

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