Tetanus – Overview of Self Care and Medical Treatment

Tetanus is an infectious disease which is caused due to Clostridium tetani bacterium. This bacterium usually lives in soil in the form of a spore. However, you can also find spores in dust and animal waste. The spores enter a wound where they germinate into the bacteria, which produce toxins that affect the muscles, leading to tetanus.

Tetanus is transmitted through the environment and not from person to person contact. It is also known as lockjaw as it causes spasms that lock the muscles of the jaw. In several cases, respiratory muscles get locked due to spasm and the person dies due to lack of oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body.

Tetanus bacteria thrive in environments where there is no or low level of oxygen and that is why puncture wounds are ideal breeding grounds for the bacteria. Tetanus self care involves cleaning the wound site though with soap and running water. Once the wound is cleaned, it should be covered with a clean dry cloth. Thereafter, you should seek medical help.

The doctor will give you antibiotics to kill any bacteria that may still be present in the wound. In addition, you may be given a tetanus booster shot, if you have not received one in the last 5 years. In case you still develop tetanus after all these supportive measures, you will be hospitalized, given sedatives to control the muscle spasms, put on a ventilator if the respiratory muscles are affected and given intravenous rehydration as the metabolism rate will increase due to the spasms.