Tetanus is a very acute form of a bacterial disease that can cause significant impairments within the central nervous system. The effects spread gradually, eventually leading to various immensely painful muscle contractions, particularly in the areas surrounding the jaw and neck muscles. Because of tetanus’ extreme and dangerous side effects, tetanus shots are highly recommended for anyone who has sustained a skin rupturing injury.
When to Get a Tetanus Shot
Tetanus originates through a form of bacteria called Clostridium Tetani which is found primarily in soil, animal fences and dust. This bacteria is topically safe, however, when it enters the body through an open flesh would, it releases “Tetanospasmin,” a toxin that is very lethal to the human body.
To prevent tetanus, a tetanus jab is strongly recommended after sustaining the following types of injury:
- Crush Injuries
- Compound fractures
- Gunshot wounds
- Puncture wounds – including body piercings, splinters, injection drugs, tattoos, etc.
- Surgical wounds
- Ear infections
- Infected foot ulcers
- Injection drug use
Of note, in some cases, the umbilical stumps present in newborn babies are infected as a result of scantily immunized mothers.
As it pertains to the proliferation of tetanus bacteria within the human body, there are some additional circumstances, beyond flesh wounds, that may put an individual at risk. Some of these factors include:
- The presence of select bacteria apart from Clostridium Tetani
- Scarce immunization or irregular tetanus booster shots
- Injury in which the skin is penetrated by spores at the site where tetanus jab has been administered
- Any form of swelling in the vicinity of the injury
- Ruptured tissue
- A puncture from a splinter, nail, or any other form of foreign body
Signs of Tetanus
The length of time it takes for a victim to feel the primary effects of the tetanus bacteria ranges from a few days following the injury to a few weeks. Usually, the symptoms are quite evident by the end the first week after the injury, as this happens to be tetanus’ incubation period. The typical progression of tetanus symptoms is as follows:
- The patient starts to feel a painful stiffness in their neck muscles
- The stiffness progresses upward to the jaw, giving rise to spasms
- Since the jaw goes numb, the patient will begin to experience difficulty swallowing food
- The stiffness then spreads to the abdominal muscles
- The patient may feel body spasms which can be immensely painful. These spasms can be triggered by a variety of things, such as a loud noise, draft, physical touch, or even light.
- There are also several less significant symptoms of tetanus – some of the more minor symptoms include:
- The victim may experience a very high fever which can fluctuate with time
- Just after sustaining a wound, a tetanus victim may experience an increase in perspiration
- Some victims experience acceleration in their resting heart rate soon after sustaining a tetanus-invoking injury
- The normal count of blood pressure increases
Preventions for Tetanus
Tetanus can be easily prevented by preemptive measures to ensure immunity against relevant toxins. Generally, people become victims of tetanus are those who have not received a tetanus jab in 10 years or more. Additionally, persons who have never ever been immunized stand an increased risk of becoming tetanus victims.
- Primary Vaccine Series. The tetanus jab is generally administered during infancy in the form the DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus Toxoids and Acellular Pertussis) vaccine package. There are a total of three diseases which this vaccine tackles: whooping cough, tetanus and Diphtheria. As per this vaccination scheme, a total of five jabs are administered to the child either in the thigh or the arm over a several year-long time span.
- Booster Shots. Usually tetanus booster jab is given in conjunction with the Diphtheria vaccine. The DTaP vaccine scheme for children and adults below the age of 65 was launched in 2005 in order to safeguard against Pertussis. Doctors usually recommend that patients receive the first jab between 11 and 12 years of age, and then every 10 years thereafter. If someone has never ever been jabbed with a DTaP, then they can alternately receive a Diphtheria vaccine booster.
Home Remedies for Injuries
After sustaining a flesh injury, there are several ways to treat your wound at home in a way that will cleanse the area and reduce the risk of tetanus infection. To treat a wound at home, follow the below steps:
- Control the Bleeding. First, make sure that you have ice packs with you so that the blood around the portion of injured skin can be frozen and controlled.
- Clean Wound. Once the blood is controlled, clean the wound using an antiseptic; make sure that the entire wound is fully cleaned.
- Apply Antibiotic Cream. Liberally apply an antibiotic cream over the wound’s surface; do not touch the wound after applying antiseptic cream.
- Cover the Wound. After applying the antibiotic cream, cover the wound so as to keep it cool and clean.
- Change Dressing. Isolate the wound for a few hours or perhaps a day, then change the wound’s covering to keep the area clean.