What is Tetanus?
Tetanus is also known as lockjaw. It is a bacterial infection affecting the nervous system and causes muscles throughout the body to tighten. The infection primarily causes muscle contractions in neck and jaw, but it can eventually spread to other parts of the body.It is a fatal disease of the nervous system caused by nerve toxins caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani (C tetani). The bacterium is found in the soil dust and in animal and human intestines. It enters through a break in the skin such as a cut or a puncture or a wound by a polluting substance. Later, they produce toxins that interfere with muscle contractions.
Tetanus disease is found in all parts of the world, but it more occurs in the location having hot and wet climates where the soil contains a lot of organic matter.
Causes of Tetanus
Tetanus is caused by the tetanus bacterium C tetani that are found in the soil and in animal faces and mouth. The C tetani can remain inactive in the soil and can remain infectious for more than 40 years. Tetanus is often connected with rust, especially rusty nails.
Spores of bacteria can be found in soil, dust, dirt and animal droppings. The spores are small reproductive bodies of specific organisms. When these spores enter the body through an injury or wound, it becomes active bacteria and makes a toxicant called tetanus toxin. This toxicant blocks extends signals from spinal cord to muscles that causes intense muscle spasms. It can be worse up to tearing of muscles or cause spine fractures.
The tetanus infection has been associated with
- Puncture wounds from piercings, tattoos, or injection drug use
- Animal bites
- Wounds contaminated with dirt, feces, or saliva
- Dental infections
- Insect bites
- Chronic sores and infections
Tetanus often begins with mild spasms in the jaw muscles known as lockjaw. The spasms can also affect the facial muscles and experience spasms and stiffness in various muscles, especially those in jaw, abdomen, chest, back, and neck. Back muscle spasms often cause arching, known as opisthotonos. Sometimes the spasms affect muscles that help with breathing, which can lead to breathing problems.
Other common tetanus symptoms are
- Fast heart rate
- Excessive Sweating
- High blood pressure
- Hand or foot spasms
- Swallowing difficulty
- Uncontrolled urination or defecation
Treatment for tetanus depends on the severity of the symptoms. However, it is typically treated with a variety of therapies and medications, such as:
- Cleaning the wound.
- Taking antibiotics like penicillin to kill the bacteria.
- Tetanus Immune Globulin (TIG) to neutralize the toxins.
- Muscle Relaxers to control muscle spasms.