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Tetanus: What you Need to Know

Friday, 12 Nov 2010 03:02 PM

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw,is a serious diseases that affects the body’s muscles and nerves. The condition, although easily preventable, results from a wound that becomes contaminated by the bacterium called Clostridium tetani. Most tetanus cases in the United States begin from a contaminated cut or a normal wound, such as accidentally stepping on a nail.

Tetanus symptoms may take five days to 15 weeks to first occur; they include a stiff neck and jaw that makes it highly difficult to swallow, leading to irritability. At the site of the wound, there may be an intensive pain or tingling followed by spasms in the nearby muscles.

Spasms are the main symptom of tetanus and may occur predominantly in the back, abdominal muscles as well as the neck. Spasms of the neck, including the respiratory muscles may cause asphyxia and obstruct the air and food passage. Patients may also suffer from insomnia.

Treatment involves a tetanus shot and drugs like penicillin that kill the bacteria.

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