Tetanus is caused by bacteria that is found in soil, dust, or manure. It enters your body through a break in the skin. Once inside the bacteria makes a toxin. This toxin causes tetanus.
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
Tetanus is most common in places that have rich, moist climates. Other things that may raise your risk are:
- Not having an up to date tetanus vaccination
- Injuries such as cuts or burns that have soil or unclean items in it
- Childbirth in places that are not clean
- Long-term wounds, such as a diabetic foot ulcers which have soil or unclean items
- Injection drug use
Symptoms may include:
- A stiff, cramping jaw or neck
- Muscle spasms, often in the belly
- Muscle stiffness
- Problems being able to swallow and breathe
- Jerking movements
- Staring off
Care is needed right away. Some people may need help with breathing. Other treatments may include:
- Tetanus immune globulin to stop the tetanus toxin
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Medicine to control muscle spasms, such as benzodiazepines
- Medicine to help the nervous system work better
- Surgery—to open and clean any skin wounds.
A tetanus vaccine may be given to those who have not had a recent one.
The best way to lower the chances of tetanus is to get the vaccination:
- Children should get the DTaP vaccine series.
- A single dose of Tdap vaccine is needed for children aged 11 years or older.
- All adults should also receive one dose of Tdap. Pregnant women should receive a dose of Tdap with every pregnancy. This can help to prevent pertussis in the baby.
- Adults should get a booster dose of the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine (Td) every 10 years.
Other things that can lower the risk are:
- Cleaning all wounds right away
- Seeking care for severe wounds
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services
All rights reserved.