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Tetanus – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, July 04, 2018 by

Tetanus, commonly referred to as lockjaw, is a severe infection caused by the Clostridium bacteria, which can be found in the soil, saliva, dust, and manure. The bacteria infect a person following a deep injury, such as a burn or a puncture wound from stepping on a nail.

The disease gets its common name from its hallmark symptom, where the infection causes a painful tightening of the muscles and a “locking” of the jaw. This makes it difficult to open a person’s mouth.

Known risk factors and symptoms of tetanus

The following are known risk factors for tetanus infections:

  • Any injury or wound that allows tetanus spores to enter the body
  • The presence of a foreign body, such as a nail or splinter

In addition, a person can be infected after experiencing:

  • Puncture wounds, including from body piercings, tattoos, and injection drugs
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Burns
  • Surgical wounds
  • Compound fractures
  • Animal or insect bites
  • Dental infections

The incubation period of a tetanus infection can range from a few days to several weeks after exposure. After which, the following symptoms can be noted:

  • The stiffness of the neck and abdominal muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful body spasms triggered by minor occurrences such a light, loud noise, or physical touch

A person infected with tetanus will also experience a fever, sweating, an elevated blood pressure, and rapid heart rate.

Body systems affected by tetanus

Complications that may come from tetanus include:

  • Fractures – a result of severe muscle spasms
  • Aspiration pneumonia – a lower respiratory tract infection after inhaling secretions of the stomach during a spasm
  • Laryngospasm – muscle spasms in the voice box which can cause breathing difficulties, even suffocation
  • Tetanic seizures – fits that come from the brain being infected with Clostridium bacteria
  • Pulmonary embolism – an obstruction in the blood vessel in the lung that can affect breathing and circulation
  • Acute renal failure – caused by destroyed skeletal muscles leaking into the urine.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent or relieve tetanus

Multiple studies have been made that look into food items that can address tetanus infections. Some foods with scientific evidence include:

  • Probiotics – These keep harmful bacteria under control. These can be taken as capsules, tablets, beverages, powders, yogurts, and other foods.
  • Astragalus
  • Berberine – The plant has been found to contain antimicrobial properties.
  • Beta-sitosterol – It is a compound found in plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, soybeans, and peanuts, which helps boost immune function.
  • Black tea – The dried leaves of Camellia sinensis is known to reduce bacterial infections.
  • Blessed thistle
  • Cranberry
  • Honey – It has long been recognized as an antibacterial agent.
  • Lavender

Treatment and management options for tetanus

If a healthcare professional believes that a person may develop a tetanus infection, he will clean his wounds and give him a tetanus immunoglobin injection, which is a medication that contains antibodies that kill the bacteria. This offers immediate, yet short-term, protection from infection. If a person develops symptoms of tetanus, he is admitted into the hospital’s intensive care unit, where treatment will consist of relieving muscles stiffness and spasms. Most people who are infected recover, although it can take several weeks or months.

Where to learn more


Tetanus is a serious infection caused by the Clostridium bacteria.

Tetanus can enter the body after a deep injury, such as a burn or a puncture wound from stepping on a nail.

The main symptoms of tetanus are the stiffness of the neck and abdominal muscles and painful body spasms triggered by minor occurrences.

Most people who had tetanus recover, although it can take several weeks or months.

Sources include:


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