Tetanus is a bacterial infection that attacks the nervous system. It can lead to severe muscle spasms or even be fatal. If you’ve been exposed through a cut, burn or dirty needle, come see our primary care physicians group right away for a tetanus shot. Or make the tetanus vaccine part of your routine vaccinations.
Who’s at Risk?
IV drug users, people with compromised immune systems and people over 50 are at highest risk, but tetanus exposure can happen to anyone with an exposed wound or burn.
How Do I Know if I Have Tetanus?
The most common scenario involves stepping on a rusty nail, but there are many ways to contract tetanus. The bacteria lives in soil, manure and dust, and spreads through any contact with your bloodstream. Symptoms include stiffening or spasm of head and neck muscles, which can lead to a “lock jaw” condition that makes it impossible to open or close your mouth. Other symptoms include:
- General muscle spasms or rigidness
- Sweating Difficulty breathing
- Trouble swallowing
- Seizures, which can be fatal
How is Tetanus Treated?
Fortunately, because tetanus is a bacteria, it can be treated with a shot of antibiotics. The key is not to wait too long, as the germ releases nerve-damaging toxins.
Your best defense is to get a tetanus shot every ten years or as directed by your physician. He or she will ask about your symptoms and medical history, then do a complete physical exam. Early treatment and preventive vaccines are always available in our primary care clinics. We aim to get you in fast and spend the time you need to get you back on the road to health.