Doctor's Notes on Tetanus (Lockjaw)
Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by the contamination of wounds with the Clostridium tetani bacterial spores that live in the soil, dust, and animal waste. The bacteria can enter the body through puncture wounds, such as those caused by rusty nails, splinters, and insect bites. Any break in the skin, burns, and IV drug access sites are also potential entryways for the bacteria.
Symptoms of tetanus include
- muscle rigidity and spasms,
- muscle cramps,
- sore muscles,
- weakness, or
- difficulty swallowing.
Facial muscles are often affected and lockjaw is common. Muscle spasms are progressive and may include a characteristic arching of the back (opisthotonus), and maybe intense enough to cause broken bones and dislocated joints. In severe cases, muscle spasms may involve the vocal cords or breathing muscles and can result in death if there is no medical intervention. In neonates, symptoms of tetanus may also include irritability and poor sucking ability, or difficulty swallowing.
What is the Treatment for Tetanus?
Infections with tetanus are usually severe and life-threatening. Tetanus is a medical emergency requiring:
- Care in the hospital
- Immediate treatment with medical antitoxin called human tetanus immune globulin (TIG)
- Aggressive wound care
- Drugs to control muscle spasms
- Sedatives such as benzodiazepines and other muscle relaxers to treat extreme muscle spasm and injury
- Intravenous (IV) hydration and electrolyte replacement
- Tetanus vaccination
- Depending on how serious the infection is, a machine to help you breathe may be required
The prognosis of infection with tetanus depends on the availability and quality of treatment. In 25-50% of cases, generalized tetanus infections are fatal. Death is usually caused by respiratory failure or heart arrhythmia caused by electrolyte abnormalities. Patients older than 65 are more likely to die of a tetanus infection. In many countries that have poor access to intensive or modern healthcare, the mortality rate is 60-80%.
Stomach Pain : Nausea & Other Causes QuizQuestion
Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day.See Answer
Must Read Articles:
Childhood Immunization Schedule and ChartVaccinations are some of the most important tools available for preventing disease. Most children get all their shots during childhood. Parents should consult their doctors about which vaccines their children should have and when. Keep track of your children's immunizations yourself.
Cuts or LacerationsCuts and lacerations are both terms that apply to a tear in the skin, though a laceration implies a more jagged tear. These terms do not include abrasions where the skin is scraped away, or avulsions where the skin is torn from the flesh. Cuts and lacerations must be disinfected and sutured in more serious cases. Basic first aid may be all that is necessary for more minor wounds. Infection is the biggest medical concern when it comes to cuts or lacerations. Signs of infection include severe pain, draining pus, redness beyond the wound edges, fever and chills, and excessive wound swelling.
Family Medical RecordsIn the event of a medical emergency, it's important for doctors to have access to family medical records. These records should contain information about illnesses, immunizations, and other pertinent personal health information.
Finger InfectionFinger infections can be caused by a variety of bacteria and viruses. Types of finger infections include paronychia, felon, herpetic whitlow, cellulitis, infectious flexor tenosynovitis, and deep space infection. Symptoms and treatment of a finger infection depend on the type.
Fish hooks Removal (Fish Hook)Trauma from a fishhook piercing the skin is common. Using proper guidelines to remove the fishhook, assuring the patient is current on his or her tetanus vaccine, and antibiotics should be prescribed to avoid infection.
Foreign TravelIt is important to plan well in advance when traveling to a foreign country. Travelers should protect (and prepare) themselves from illness by obtaining the appropriate vaccinations and bringing along a traveler's medical kit that contains: prescription medications, first aid supplies, sanitary napkins/tampons (for women), sunscreen, insect repellents, motion sickness medication, pain remedies, cold remedies, and foot care products.
General Medical CheckupSome people expect to have a yearly medical checkup, and others feel that a checkup once every two to three years is sufficient. In the past, most medical groups advocated an annual health exam. However, more recently, the American Medical Association and other similar groups have moved away from the yearly exam.
Immunization Schedule, AdultsAt least 45,000 adults in the United States die of complications of influenza, pneumococcal infections, and hepatitis B each year. Adults need the following vaccines: chickenpox, hepatitis B, MMR, Td/Tdap, flu, shingles, and pneumococcal.
Immunizations and Antibiotics for Overseas TravelMost immunizations are not required under International Health Requirements but are recommended. Anyone lacking certain region- or country-specific immunizations may be denied entry into or exit from a country.
Puncture WoundA puncture wound is caused by an object piercing the skin such as nails, glass, pins, or other sharp objects. A puncture wound can become infected if not treated properly. A tetanus booster may be necessary for some puncture wounds.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.