Tetanus: What is it, symptoms, treatment and tetanus vaccine
Tetanus is a serious infectious disease that can cause serious health problems and requires urgent diagnosis and treatment. This disease manifests itself with the effects of toxins produced by the Clostridium tetani bacteria on the nervous system. Tetanus can occur as a result of even the simplest injury and can cause symptoms such as severe and painful muscle contractions, jaw locking, difficulty swallowing and breathing problems. However, it can be said that tetanus is a preventable disease. Tetanus vaccination is the most effective way to protect against the serious consequences of the disease. The vaccine strengthens the immune system against the tetanus bacteria and helps cope with the infection.
What is Tetanus? What are the symptoms of tetanus?
Tetanus is a serious infection that occurs when toxins produced by the bacterium called Clostridium tetani enter the body. This bacterium is commonly found in environmental factors such as soil, dust and animal feces. Tetanus infection usually occurs as a result of skin cuts, burns, insect bites and other tissue injuries. It usually occurs when bacterial spores are found in other materials in the environment and this material comes into contact with a wound. Therefore, in high-risk situations, getting a tetanus vaccine is important in preventing tetanus infection. Situations that may cause tetanus transmission include:
- Skin cuts, burns, bruises or other tissue injuries
- Surface wounds from contact with dirty or infected materials,
- Contact of wounds with soil, animal feces, dirty tools or rusty surfaces,
- Injections made with infected needles,
- Serious skin infections,
- Animal bites.
The causative microorganism begins to reproduce in an injured and damaged area. As a result of reproduction, the bacteria secretes toxins and affects the nerve cells in the nervous system. As a result, involuntary and excessive contractions occur in the muscles. Symptoms of tetanus often appear between 3 and 21 days after infection, although this period may sometimes be longer or shorter. Symptoms that tetanus infection can cause are:
- Stiffness and contraction in the jaw muscles may cause patients to be unable to open their mouth and have difficulty eating.
- Due to difficulty swallowing and spasms in the throat muscles, patients may have difficulty swallowing solid or liquid foods and may experience a feeling of choking.
- Tightness in the neck and back may make it difficult to bend the head back or turn the patient’s head to the side.
- Patients often complain of muscle aches, and even simple movements can cause pain.
- During contractions, patients often experience uncontrolled and involuntary muscle movements throughout their bodies.
- Tetanus infection can cause an increase in body temperature.
- Patients may experience excessive sweating.
- Due to the effects of tetanus on the nervous system, patients may experience psychological symptoms such as restlessness, irritability and anxiety.
How is Tetanus Diagnosed?
Diagnosing tetanus is usually made by considering symptoms, physical examination, and medical history. The doctor may suspect tetanus infection by evaluating the patient’s symptoms and signs. Tetanus manifests itself with characteristic symptoms such as stiffness and contraction of the jaw muscles, difficulty in swallowing, and stiffness in the neck and back. The patient’s medical history is also important for tetanus diagnosis.
Tetanus infection is associated with wound or tissue damage, so past injuries or infections may increase the risk of tetanus. The doctor may review the patient’s recent injuries, infections, and vaccination history. Regular vaccination reduces the risk of tetanus infection. Laboratory tests are not usually used to diagnose tetanus. However, in some cases, an electromyography (EMG) test can be performed to evaluate muscle spasms caused by infection. If tetanus is diagnosed, treatment is started immediately and there is no waiting to confirm the diagnosis. Because tetanus is a serious infection, it is important to begin treatment immediately when symptoms appear or in a situation where there is a high risk of tetanus. Early treatment can help prevent the spread of infection and the development of complications.
What are the Tetanus Treatment Methods?
Tetanus treatment often requires a multifaceted approach and is customized depending on the patient’s condition. Treatment aims to stop the progression of the infection, reduce the effects of toxins, and manage symptoms. Prompt and effective treatment is vital due to the seriousness of tetanus. Since tetanus infection is a serious condition, treatment is carried out in the hospital. Hospitalization ensures that the patient is closely monitored and necessary treatments are administered. Tetanus infection is usually associated with a wound or injury. Therefore, sterile cleaning and dressing of wounds is important in treatment to prevent the spread of infection. Once diagnosed, an antibody medication called Tetanus Immunoglobulin (TIG) is usually given. TIG helps stop the progression of the infection by neutralizing tetanus toxins. At the same time, the patient is given a tetanus vaccine after diagnosis. This vaccine helps prevent progression of the infection by providing immunity against tetanus. Additionally, broad-spectrum antibiotics are often prescribed to prevent other bacterial infections related to tetanus infection. Management of symptoms caused by tetanus is also important in this process. These symptoms include muscle spasms, convulsions, pain, and difficulty swallowing. Painkillers, muscle relaxants, and other symptomatic treatments may be used to manage symptoms.
What are the Ways to Prevent Tetanus? What is Tetanus Vaccine?
Since tetanus is a serious infectious disease, it is important to pay attention to preventive measures. Tetanus vaccination should be given regularly and hygiene rules should be followed in case of injuries. In case of any injury, especially injuries that are dirty or in contact with soil, the wound should be cleaned and a hygienic dressing applied as soon as possible. Cleaning and dressing helps reduce the risk of infection. Therefore, paying attention to cleaning and hygiene measures is important in protecting against tetanus. Hygiene rules should be followed, such as washing hands frequently with soap and water and using gloves before treating injuries.
The most effective way to protect against tetanus is the tetanus vaccine. The tetanus vaccine provides immunity against toxins and prevents the development of infection. At the same time, it is important to get a tetanus vaccine in cases where the risk of tetanus increases. Workers in high-risk jobs should receive a tetanus vaccination before situations where the risk of injury is high. Tetanus vaccine is a vaccine that provides immunity against the bacteria Clostridium tetani.
It is usually administered as DBT (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus) vaccine or Td (tetanus-diphtheria) vaccine. The vaccine contains inactivated tetanus toxin, which creates antibodies against tetanus toxins. Tetanus vaccine is a vaccine administered routinely in childhood. Usually 5 doses of DBT or Td are required to complete the vaccination. Additionally, booster doses are recommended at regular intervals after adolescence and into adulthood.
Tetanus vaccine is generally safe and well tolerated. In most cases, mild side effects occur. These may include redness, swelling, mild fever, malaise, or mild pain in the injection area. Serious side effects are extremely rare. Things you can do to prevent tetanus include:
- Getting a tetanus vaccine,
- Ensuring vaccination is up to date,
- Applying hygienic dressings, carefully cleaning wounds, especially those that are dirty or in contact with soil,
- Washing hands regularly with soap and water,
- Staying away from risky environments,
- Taking precautions against injuries and using appropriate protective equipment,
- Getting booster doses in accordance with the vaccination schedule,
- Carrying out regular medical check-ups,
- Seek medical help as soon as possible if symptoms of tetanus occur.
- In risky situations, consult your healthcare provider for tetanus vaccination booster.
You can contact the nearest health institution to learn more about tetanus and get a tetanus vaccine. You can obtain detailed information about tetanus from specialist physicians and get support in risk assessment and arranging your vaccination schedule.