Related to wound care and healing, tetanus might be a certain thing to concern. Tetanus attack, which is caused by Clostridium bacteria and goes into the body through an open wound is in many cases, life threatening. Hence, initial observation and treatment are necessary.
What wounds can be infected with tetanus?
Tetanus or lockjaw is a disease which affects muscles and nerves and in some cases, can be fatal. This disease is caused by bacteria residing in the soil and may enter human body through an open wound. Minor and severe wounds can be infected by Clostridium and develop tetanus, especially those wounds caused by dirty objects, such as rusty nails and objects found beneath the soil. Tetanus is also associated with wounds caused by human and animal bites, since this kind of wounds are easily contaminated by bacteria present in the saliva. Hence, it is really important to observe any open wounds, in order to be prepared for the possibility of tetanus development, so that proper treatments can be performed.
What does tetanus-infected wound look like?
Many people wonder whether or not tetanus wounds have something different from tetanus-free wounds. Unfortunately, tetanus wound does not look infected. Physically, the wound does not show those signs of severe infections, which most of the time give us clues on the most proper healing treatment. While infected wound caused by other bacteria might show redness, swelling, and pus-like drainage accompanied by high fever, tetanus wounds do not encounter those infection symptoms. Hence, it is really difficult to tell the possibility of tetanus on certain wounds by merely scrutinizing its physical conditions. Because of the lack of symptoms developed through the wound, other methods of recognizing the necessity of tetanus shot will be helpful.
In most cases, tetanus symptoms are not related to the wound appearance. Hence, you will not find the red, inflamed wound oozing pus-like drainage when infected. Instead, this disease is caused by bacteria attacking the nerve systems, so that its major signs of infection occur in those nerve systems, not at or around the wound site. As a result, if you are wounded by a rusty nail puncturing the bottom side of your foot, you may not observe swollen, inflamed foot. The puncture wound caused by the nail will not also bleed, foully smelled, or produce strange drainage. Instead, the symptoms might linger around your neck, jaws, throat, and muscles all over the body. Because of this, it is important to notice when your last tetanus shot was, because it will be useful for determining whether or not you will need one when you are wounded by tetanus-prone objects, such as rusty nails, dirty saw, and old knives. Since the wound itself does not encounter clear tetanus diseases, scrutinizing your other body parts might tell you about how your tetanus-prone wounds heal. Put in mind that despite its rareness, tetanus might be life-threatening, especially when not treated properly and immediately.
Observing tetanus symptoms
Incubation period for tetanus lasts between 3 days to 3 weeks, but the most common cases develop within 8 days. During this period, some symptoms of tetanus can be observed. The most frequently occur symptoms include:
- Muscle spasms
This is the most common symptom of tetanus, from which its name–lockjaw is derived. Muscle spasms developed by tetanus occur mostly on the jaws. Hence, opening the mouth might be troublesome.
- Difficulty of swallowing
Tetanus also causes inflammation of the muscles around the jaws. As a result, swallowing can be difficult.
- Stiffness of the neck
Muscles around the neck are also attacked by Clostridium bacteria—the cause of tetanus. Hence, when suffered from the disease you might not be able to move the neck freely. You might experience stiffness on certain or all area of the neck. This stiffness might also spread to the shoulder and back.
- Difficulty of breathing
This is caused by spasm of the vocal cords, which does not only cause difficulty of breathing, but also talking.
As Clostridium bacteria attack the nervous system, it causes the muscles to contract continuously. Seizures is the result of this muscle contraction, which happens when the tetanus has worsened.
- Abnormal heart rhythm