Tetanus Symptoms and Treatment
Tetanus is a serious infectious disease which is caused by bacteria. The symptoms of the disease – strong and long-lasting muscle spasms – are very excruciating. Untreated tetanus causes to death. Excitation and transmission of tetanus Tetanus is caused by an infection with the bacterium Clostridium tetani.
This pathogen has three special features:
- It forms Sporenaus that are very resistant and can survive for long without a host.
- It can proliferate in anaerobic conditions under the absence of oxygen.
- It produces bacterial toxins which are responsible for the typical symptoms of tetanus.
The spores of Clostridium tetani bacterium is found in the feces of animals. Especially, horses and mainly in the ground. They pass through wounds in the human body even it is enough a small cut or scratch in the skin. The transmission from human to human is not possible and affected patients are not so contagious.
Tetanus: What happens in the body
Once it has come to infection with tetanus, bacteria begins at the entry point of two toxins to produce:
Tetanus occurs among strong muscle spasms by damage to nerve level. The bacterial toxins travel from the entry point of the exciter along the nerves to the central nervous system. Toxins go directly to a specific brain section , focus of infection downstream from the neck and they infect the spinal cord. There is an inhibition of certain nerve impulses that are supposed to prevent excessive muscle contractions. Due to the failure of these inhibitory impulses that act as a kind of control switch.
There are strong excitability and prolonged convulsions. In principle all muscle groups may be affected of these cramps.
Tetanus:Incubation time, duration and frequency
The incubation time describes the time interval from the infection with a pathogen until the occurrence of the symptoms. Tetanus has a very variable incubation period. In fast curves it comes after a few days to the first signs of the disease, in other cases it takes up to three weeks.
If the incubation period is very short, which may be indicative of a high pathogen load, which causes for a more severe disease.
The toxins act up to 12 weeks in the body. Thanks to comprehensive vaccinations that decreased tetanus in the world.
Doctors distinguish four forms of tetanus:
The generalized form ; When it comes to the classic appearance of the disease all over the body.
The local form: Symptoms remain mostly limited to the limb (such as muscle stiffness).
The cephalic tetanus: A special form, in which the causative wound is located on the head.
Neonatal tetanus: Affects only newborns. It becomes ill infants of unvaccinated mothers. Infection is often due to lack of hygiene, the pathogens penetrate mostly above the umbilicus. The neonatal form of tetanus spasm is most widely and primarily occurs in countries with low standards of hygiene and poor medical facilities.
Tetanus Causes and Risk factors
The causative bacterium Clostridium tetani multiplies, as mentioned above, only under anaerobic conditions where there is no oxygen.It enters the body through wound. A superficial wound, with a slightly larger area, for example, deeper cut or stab with a sharp object.
In addition, the pathogen likes dead tissue because the area will be anaerobic. Such dead (necrotic) tissue is more common in larger wounds, especially if they are not treated surgically.
Age is risk factor
Elderly people are at risk of developing tetanus. Because this group directed against the tetanus toxin antibodies are not sufficiently available in the blood. These antibodies are produced in the body after vaccination, but rapidly reduces again at the age than in young people.
Secondly, Elderly people often suffer due to poorer circulation,vascular disease and diabetes. Consequently, bacterias which cause tetanus proliferate in anaerobic easier.
Tetanus Symptoms and Complications
Tetanus is expressed at the beginning usually by more general symptoms such as:
- A headache
- Muscle aches
During the tetanus other symptoms are ;
- Tensed jaw muscles
- A grinning face
- Rigidity of the long back and abdominal muscles
- Cramping of the muscles in the arms and legs, ribs, the larynx, and finally the diaphragm.
The painful muscle spasms are typical of tetanus and it takes one to two minutes.
There are three basic rules for the treatment of tetanus;
- Identify the entry point and cutting edges of the wound
- Neutralization of tetanus and immunization
- Supportive care for the symptoms
The wound is immediately cut carefully, what is especially important for deep wounds. Some antibiotics, especially metronidazole is replaced thorough wound cleansing. In addition, it can not reduce the toxins already produced.
In order to neutralize the circulating tetanus poison, antibodies (immunoglobulins) which are injected into the buttocks and in the wound edges.
Maintain an open airway; The facial and throat muscles in tetanus cramps and it is important to keep airway to open. The ill person receives oxygen via a nasogastric tube. A artificial respiration machine is often required and muscle spasms are treated with special drugs, is called muscle relaxants.
Tetanus Shot (vaccine)
How does tetanus shot?
Tetanus is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, more specifically by its poison. The pathogen enters through small or large wounds in the human body and produces two toxins (bacterial toxins). One of them, Tetanospasmin, is responsible for the typical symptoms of lockjaw spasm. Therefore, real danger do not represent the bacteria themselves but their tetanus poison represents.
Active tetanus vaccination
In principle, it involves the bacterial toxin itself, but in a weakened form. If it is injected into this state, the patient’s immune system comes with the “light version” of the poison in contact and begins to make antibodies against it.
The tetanus vaccine is in itself no danger, but causes an effective protection against the infectious disease.
The passive tetanus vaccination
In contrast to active vaccination is injected in passive ready-antibodies which are directed against the Tetanospasmin. These antibodies are derived from human blood and are used when the patient has an open injury, but no active vaccination exists. Then passive tetanus vaccine is injected (Tetagam), this can prevent the symptoms of tetanus or mitigate significantly.
When and how often do i need tetanus shot?
Experts recommend an active tetanus vaccination specifically for people of all ages, whether infant or old. In principle, any time be vaccinated, with the exception of severe illnesses and high fever. Because under such circumstances the immune system is weakened or been so preoccupied that it may not get the desired antibodies to tetanus toxin. However, a slight cold does not constitute an obstacle vaccination, as is often mistakenly assumed.
First dose is meant the formation of the antibody is stimulated. Usually these basic immunization takes place in several steps already in infants along with other standard vaccinations (diphtheria, polio, whooping cough, etc.).
When do i need to refresh Tetanus shot?
İt is also important to refresh tetanus shot. Although the primary immunization results in the formation of antibodies, but must be refreshed periodically. If the first vaccination was carried out in infancy, the vaccination with one injection in 5 to 6 years of age and between 9 and 17 years of age is refreshed.
The refresh in 5 years is done in combination with the diphtheria-pertussis vaccination.
For adults, the combined tetanus-diphtheria vaccine (Td vaccine) for refresher of the vaccination is every ten years the most appropriate. Once the triple vaccine Tetanus Diphtheria Pertussis (Tdap vaccine) should be given.
Tetanus Shot Side Effects
As with many other drugs, there are side effects available in the tetanus vaccination. However, these are harmless and rare in most cases.
The most common side effects include:
- Temporary symptoms in the gastrointestinal area
- A headache
- Swelling and pain at the injection site
Tetanus Course and Prognosis
Tetanus can not be underestimated. The tetanus symptoms are associated for those who are concerned not only with considerable pain.If it ise untreated, it can even lead to death. however, usually started on time with an intensive care setting therapy, this can usually be prevented. After about four weeks, the symptoms disappear gradually, after a further four weeks, they will completely disappear.There can be some consequential damages which is required further treatment.