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Tetanus (cont.)

Medical Treatment for Tetanus

Medical treatment has two aims: limit growth and eventually kill the infecting C. tetani and thus eliminate toxin production; the second aim is to neutralize any toxin that is formed. If the toxin has already affected the patient, the two aims are still important, but supportive measures will be needed for the patient. These steps are outlined below:

  • Antibiotics (for example, metronidazole [Flagyl, Flagyl 375, Flagyl ER], penicillin G or doxycycline [Adoxa, Alodox, Avidoxy, Doryx, Monodox, Oracea, Oraxyl, Periostat, Vibramycin, Vibramycin Calcium, Vibramycin Monohydrate, Vibra-Tabs]) to kill the bacteria, tetanus booster shot, if necessary, and occasionally, antitoxin (termed tetanus immune globulin or TIG) to neutralize the toxin
  • Wound cleansing to remove any obvious bacteria collections (abscesses) or foreign bodies; if the patient is exhibiting any toxin-related problems, TIG is usually administered first and wound care is delayed for a few hours while the TIG neutralizes toxin because infected wounds, when manipulated, may release more toxin
  • Supportive measures
  • Pain medicine as needed
  • Sedatives such as diazepam (Valium) to control muscle spasms and muscle relaxants
  • Ventilator support to help with breathing in the event of spasms of the vocal cords or the respiratory muscles
  • IV rehydration because, as muscles spasm constantly, increased metabolic demands are placed on the body
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/30/2014
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Tetanus »

The word tetanus comes from the Greek tetanos, which is derived from the term teinein, meaning to stretch.

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