Font Size

Tetanus (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

When to call the doctor

  • Individuals should know if their tetanus immunization is current; often primary-care physicians have immunization records and may be able to supply people with that information.
  • If people have a wound, they should seek medical attention. If they are not immunized against tetanus or have not kept up tetanus booster shots every 10 years, any open wound is at risk of developing tetanus. Many emergency physicians advise a tetanus booster be given if the patient's last booster is between 5 to 10 years old because patients may not accurately recall the date of their last booster and also because not all patients' immune systems will give 10-year protection following the vaccine.

When to go to the hospital

  • Most doctors can care for minor wounds with mild degrees of contamination. In addition, most doctors maintain tetanus vaccines in their offices and can, if they have the records, vaccinate anyone who is inadequately immunized. Call the patient's doctor and follow his or her advice regarding whether or not they should seek treatment in a hospital's emergency department after an injury or wound.
  • If the wound is large, contains crushed tissues, or is heavily contaminated, individuals should go to the nearest hospital's emergency department for evaluation. Occasionally, both a tetanus booster and tetanus antibodies are required if patients have any wound that is tetanus-prone. Tetanus antibodies are reserved for people with incomplete immunizations with a tetanus-prone wound.
  • If individuals have a recent injury and are starting to experience muscle cramps or spasms at or near the injury, they should go to a hospital's emergency department immediately.
  • If individuals have trouble swallowing or have muscle spasms in the facial muscles, go to the emergency department for treatment immediately.

Must Read Articles Related to Tetanus

Checkup Some people expect to have a yearly checkup, and...learn more >>
Cuts or Lacerations
Cuts or Lacerations Cuts and lacerations are both terms that apply to a tear in the skin, though a learn more >>
Family Medical Records
Family Medical Records In the event of a medical emergency, it's important for doctors to have access to family medical records. These records should contain information about illness...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Tetanus:

Tetanus - Symptoms

What symptoms and signs did you experience with tetanus?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Tetanus »

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

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary