Tetanus – Risk of Tetanus Complication

Tetanus – Risk of Tetanus Complication

Tetanus is muscular stiffness of so called spasm rising from jaw and neck area. It is caused by toxic clostridium tetani bacteria, infiltrating the nerve system through uncared wound.

Clostridium tetani may survive out of body in spora form and last long, such as in dust, soil, animal dungs or human faeces.

The clostridium spora commonly penetrate the body through wounds caused by injuries, animal bites, rusty nails, or burns.

Tetanus Symptoms

On entering the body the spora turns into active tetanus bacteria. Then it will grow and release neurotoxin. The neurotoxin disrupts the nerve system and causes the sufferer to experience muscular stiffness. This is the main symptom of tetanus and causes the jaw to lock (lockjaw). Hard of swallowing is also one of the symptoms.

Types of tetanus

Tetanus has the following types: general tetanus, located tetanus, cephalic, and neonatorum. The located and cephalic types are of rare case.

Located tetanus happens when the affected area is limited to certain part of the body. It is caused by partial immune body system against tetanus bacteria and may turn into general type one.

Cephalic tetanus is caused by middle ear infection. It may also change to the general type tetanus.

Neonatorum tetanus is the tetanus suffered by newly born baby because of defiled birth handling then affected with tetanus bacteria spora.

Diagnosis and treatments Tetanus

Physical examination will usually be done by the doctor while also enquiring the patient’s case history on getting affected.

The treatment is given for supportive therapy, destroying the spora and stopping the bacteria growth.

Vaccination is recommended in case of the following:

Having no vaccination yet.

Having no full vaccination.

No assurance about ever having vaccination.

Tetanus is not a contagious disease but potentially fatal, especially when affecting face or head, suffered by babies, and poor handled patient.

Preventive and complications Tetanus

The main action to prevent tetanus is the vaccination.

The immunization is partial vaccination of DTP (diftery, tetanus, pertusis) and dispensed in 5 phases for the ages under 5 years and when reaching 12 years old.

For women the immunization is recommended to be given once before marriage and once after giving birth.

Caring for hygiene is also among the preventive actions, especially when nursing the wound.

Late handling of tetanus may lead to complications, such as sudden stop of heartbeat, lung emboli, and pneumonia.

Causes  of Tetanus

Tetanus bacteria spora living in defiled anaerobe wound will turn to active bacteria, then growing and releasing neurotoxin called tetanospasmin.

Risk factors

The factors and conditions susceptible to having tetanus infection are as follows:

Having no or incomplete vaccination.

Foreign matters existing in wound as wood piece, rust, or finger nail.

Wound affected with dust, animal dungs  or soil.

Deep wound such as one pierced by rusty or dirty nails.

Tatoo and piercing  made with poor hygienic tools.

Unsterile injection syringe.

Infected umbilical cord of newly born baby because of  incomplete vaccination of its mother.

Symptoms Tetanus

It requires 4 to 14 days incubation for tetanus bacteria spora before appearing in someone as tetanus symptoms. The symptoms include:

Spasm as indicated in muscular stiffness mainly jaw and neck causing the sufferer to be hard of opening mouth. The face looks awry, which is called risus sardonicus.

Difficulty to swallow may spread to the neck.

Muscles around stomach turn rigid.

Painful muscular contraction body whole takes some minutes. The symptoms are usually triggered by small matters as noise, touches, and light.

Grave spasm all over the body which causes lower back to curve upward.

Fever and sweaty.

Rising blood pressure.

Rapid heartbeat.

Treatment of Tetanus

Tetanus diagnosis is not determined by laboratory tests but by clinical manifestation.

Intensive treatments of tetanus include the following:

To relieve stiffness and relax the patient, anti stiff and sedative medicines may be given.

Sanitary actions on wound such as removing filth or dead tissue and disturbing materials still remaining.

To neutralize neurotoxin still prevailing, tetanus immunoglobulin may be dispensed.

To stop neurotoxin production, antimicrobic and antibiotic medications may be prescribed to kill clostridium tetani bacteria.

To operate a respirator or ventilator in case of affecting breathing organs.

To supply nutritional through flexible tube or infuser to prevent dehydration and malnutrition.

To recommend bedrest in a dark and tranquil room for preventing spasm recurring.

To provide tetanus vaccine for long term preventive action.

risk of tetanus


How to Prevent Tetanus

Vaccination, the principal preventive action.

Tetanus immunization as partial DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccination, to be given in 5 phases, ranging from 2, 4, 6, 18 months to 4-6 years of the age.

Td vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria, to be given for over 7 years of age and repeated each 10 years.

To keep sanitary of the wound against infection and for quick healing. Toxoid may also be given to prevent infection of the wound.

Risk of Tetanus complication

Serious compications follow:

Pneumonia, caused by inhaling foreign matters into the lungs, such as saliva, vomit, food, or drink.

Lung emboli, especially with the old aged and drug abusers. The complication happens when lung blood vessel clogs.

Sudden stop of breathing, caused by muscular stiffness about the vocal membrane capable of fatal heart affliction.

Broken bone after prolonged spasm and contraction.