Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that affects the nervous system and causes muscles throughout the body to tighten.It is also called lockjaw because the infection often causes muscle contraction in the jaw and neck. However, it can eventually spread to other parts of the body. Tetanus can interfere with your ability to breathe and can threaten your life.
Although tetanus treatment exists,it is not uniformly effective. The bestway to protect against tetanus is to take the vaccine.
Sign and symptoms of tetanus appear anytime from a few days to several weeks after tetanus bacteria enter your body through a wound. The average incubation period is 7-10 days.
Common signs and symptoms of tetanus include-
• Spasms and stiffness in your jaw muscles
• Stiffness of your neck muscles
• Difficulty swallowing
• Stiffness of your abdominal muscles
• Painful body spasms lasting for several minutes, typically triggered by minor occurrences, such as a loud noise,physical touch or light.
Most individuals with tetanus will also have the following symptoms –
• bloody stools
• sensitivity to touch
• sore throat
• rapid heartbeat
Bacteria called Clostridium tetani causes tetanus. Spores ofthe bacteria can be found in dust, dirt and animal droppings. Spores are small reproductive bodies produced by certain organisms. They are often resistant to harsh environmental conditions, such as high heat.
A person can become infected when these spores enter the bloodstream through a cut or deep wound. The bacteria spores then spread to the central nervous system and produce a toxin called tetanospasmin. This toxin is a poison that blocks the nerve signals from your spinal cord to your muscles. This can lead to severe muscle spasms.
Tetanus infection has been associated with –
• crush injuries
• injuries with dead tissue
• wounds contaminated with dirt, faeces or saliva
• puncture wounds from piercings, tattoos, injection drug use, or injury (Such as stepping on a nail)
Less commonly, it is been associated with –
• animal bites
• dental injections
• insect bites
• Chronic sores and infections
Tetanus is not contagious from person to person.
Risk Factors –
The following increases your chances of getting tetanus –
• failure to get vaccinated or to keep upto date with booster shots against tetanus
• an injury that lets tetanus spores into the wound
• Puncture wounds including from splintus, body piercing and injection drugs
• Compound fractures
• Infected umbilical stumps in newborns born of inadequately vaccinated mothers.
If the patient does not receive treatment, the risk of life threatening complications is higher and mortality rates ray from 40 to 76 percent.
Complications may include-
• Aspiration pneumonia
• Tetanic seizures
• Pulmonary embolism
• Acute renal failure
You can easily prevent tetanus by vaccination.
• The primary vaccine series –
The tetanus vaccine usually is given to children as part of the diptheria and tetanus toxoids and a cellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine.This vaccination provides protection against three diseases – diptheria, pertussis and tetanus.
The DTaP vaccine is a series of 5 shots, typically given in the arm or thigh to children at ages –
¤ 2 months
¤ 4 months
¤ 6 months
¤ 15 to 18 months
¤ 4 to 6 years
• The booster –
A booster of the tetanus vaccine is typically given in combination with a booster of diptheria vaccine (Td).
It is recommended that adolescents get a dose of Tdap, preferably between the ages of ll and 12, and a Td booster every 10 years thereafter. If you have never received a dose of Tdap, substitute it for your next Td booster dose and then continue with Td boosters.
Doctors diagnose tetanus based on a physical exam, medical and immunization history and the sign & symptoms of muscle spasms, stiffness and pain.
Laboratory tests generally are not helpful for diagnosing tetanus.
Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. Tetanus is typically treated with a variety of therapies and medications, such as –
• antibiotics such as penicillin to kill the bacteria in your system
• tetanus immune globulin (TIG) lorealralize the toxins that the bacteria have created in your body
• muscle relaxants to control muscle spasms
• a tetanus vaccine given along with the treatment
• cleaning the wound to get rid of the source of the bacteria
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurveda, tetanus is specifically compared with different Vatavyadhis like Dhanustambha,Antarayama,Bahirayama etc.
Dhanustambha is caused when the vitiated vata affects the network of snayu making the body bent like a bow.
Antrayama is the vata dosha which gets aggravated throughout the body and finally lodges in manya pradesh ( Carotid region) resulting in inward bending of the neck.It is associated with stiffness in manya pradesh and greeva (neck).
Bahirayama is caused due to vata dosha that aggravates in greeva causing constriction of siras (blood vessels) which leads to bending of the jaw backward like a bow, the head moves towards back, the neck becomes rigid and squeezed, teeth are clenched along with yawning and excessive salivation. There is aphasia and chest is protruded.
Dhanustambha is said to be asandhya (untreatable) as per Ayurveda.
Based on the sign & symptoms,the treatment protocol is as follows –
• Swedana –
• Basti –
• Oral medication –
¤ Nirgundi juice with honey thrice a day
¤ Chandra shekhara ras with honey twice a day
¤ Lakshmi Narayan ras with honey twice a day
¤ Decoction of Karpasa seeds and horse gram
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