Type of paper: Article Review

Topic: Nursing, Viruses, Vaccination, Muscle, Development, Patient, Dose, Trauma

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/03/22

Tetanus is a rare kind of infection that can develop in a wound or injury causing severe muscle spasms. It cannot be transferred from one person to another. The wounded tissues and muscles in the body, especially the jaw, back, neck, and abdomen are affected by this problem.

Causes of Tetanus

Clostridium tetani, a kind of bacteria, is found almost everywhere – particularly in soil; human and animal waste as, for example, manure; and house dust – are the causes of tetanus (Baird, Marzuki, & Harrison, 2015). They can move into the person’s body through a piercing caused by nail or some other object, or it can also enter the body through a severe burn. After entering the body, bacteria can easily start multiplication releasing a potent toxin or poison known as neurotoxin. Toxins generated by the bacteria moves to nerves and disrupt their normal working, thereby causing stiffness, muscle contraction, muscle spasms, as well as seizures.

Signs and Symptoms of Tetanus

Usually, the symptoms may appear within 3 to 21 days after infection with the tetanus causing bacteria. Average incubation period – the period between infection and the appearance of symptoms of disease – of tetanus bacteria is nearly 8 days (Department of Health, New York, 2014). Most important signs and symptoms of tetanus include muscle pain, irritability, and frequent, severe spasms especially in the jaw muscles (also known as “lockjaw”) of patients. In fact, stiffness of jaw muscles is among the first signs in the development of tetanus. It can cause difficulty in opening the mouth. After one to three days, muscle spasms as well as stiffness can spread from the patient’s jaw into his or her neck and limbs.
It can also result in severe swallowing difficulty (also known as “dysphagia”). Moreover, fever (high temperature to about 100.4F or above), sweating, high blood pressure, and rapid heartbeat can also develop. Other signs and symptoms may include difficulty in using chest muscles to breathe. In more severe cases, serious breathing difficulties can develop that can result in suffocation. If tetanus is left untreated, it can result in serious complications such as heart failure that can be fatal for the patient.

Risk Factors for Tetanus

Most of the cases of tetanus develop in patients, who were not vaccinated against the tetanus infection. Moreover, people with incomplete vaccination course can also develop tetanus. Further risk factors for tetanus may include:

Warm and humid weather,

Lack of current tetanus immunizations,
Diabetes mellitus,
Crowded or unhygienic lifestyles, particularly for newborn infants, who are born to mothers, who are non-immunized. Moreover, neonatal tetanus can develop when a contaminated knife or other such tool is used to cut the umbilical cord,
Use of illegal drugs as, for example, metamphetamine or heroin with uncleaned needles and/or syringes. Moreover, drug dealers can mix quinine in these kinds of drugs that can be contaminated by the tetanus bacteria.

Diagnosis of Tetanus

In order to find the problem of tetanus, it is important to check the wound or similar injury along with muscle spasms that could be painful and muscle stiffness. In order to confirm tetanus, spatula test can be used (Bope & Kellerman, 2014). It is the insertion of a spatula into the back of the patient’s throat. This entry of spatula can result in a gag reflex, and he or she would try to push the spatula out of the mouth. In case of infection in the patient, the spatula would result in spasm of throat muscles of the patient, and he or she would also bite down onto the spatula.

Complications of Tetanus

Different possible complications can develop if a tetanus infection is severe and has not been treated properly. Among the most important complications of tetanus are sudden cardiac death, pulmonary embolism, aspiration pneumonia, and acute kidney failure.
Sudden cardiac death – when the heart stops beating suddenly – is among the most serious complications of tetanus as it is the leading cause of death in patients having tetanus. However, it happens in patients, who are already significantly ill with the condition.
Severely ill patients can also face the problem of pulmonary embolism in which blood vessels in the lungs are blocked, thereby affecting the breathing as well as circulation. Therefore, anti-clotting medicines along with oxygen therapy can be used in this case.
Complication of aspiration pneumonia can develop, when a small amount of saliva enters the lungs as a result of muscle spasms and stiffness. It can be cured with the help of antibiotics.
Acute kidney failure can also be a serious complication of tetanus. This complication can be caused by a condition known as rhabdomyolysis in which muscle tissues are broken down and a protein known as myoglobin starts leaking into the urine.

Treatment of Tetanus

Without proper treatment, complications can develop that are sometimes fatal for the patient. However, immunization programs and advancements in treatment strategies have helped in reducing the chances of deaths from tetanus (Collins, White, Ramsay, & Amirthalingam, 2015).
Four combinations of vaccines are used to stop tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. These combinations are DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td. DTaP as well as DT is administered to children in the age range of less than 7 years, and Tdap as well as Td are administered to older children as well as adults. Children have to get five dosages of DTaP, i.e. one dose in 2 months of age, second dose in 4 months of age, third dose in 6 months of age, forth dose in 15 to 18 months of age, and fifth dose in 4 to 6 years of age. DT is without pertussis, and is utilized for children, who are unable to endure pertussis vaccine. Td is a vaccine of tetanus-diphtheria that is administered to adults as a booster dose after every 10 years, or with a tetanus exposure. Tdap is same to Td but it also contains protection from pertussis. Adolescents and adults usually get only dose of Tdap (CDC, 2015).
In case of contamination of a deep wound by a tetanus bacteria and the patient has already been vaccinated, he or she will be given a medication known as tetanus immunoglobulin (TIG) as a precautionary measure. On the other hand, if the patient has not been vaccinated and develops the problem of tetanus, he or she would have to be admitted to the hospital for proper treatment. In case of treatment, a combination of medicines can be used as, for example, antibiotics, antitoxins, and muscle relaxants to fight against the problems caused by tetanus. Moreover, a ventilator (machine that can help in breathing) can also be used to stop the problem of suffocation. Most of the patients successfully survive the problem, but it can take up to four months for full recovery.


Baird, J. K., Marzuki, S., & Harrison, M. (2015). War Crimes in Japan-Occupied Indonesia: A Case of Murder by Medicine: Potomac Books, Incorporated.
Bope, E. T., & Kellerman, R. D. (2014). Conn's Current Therapy 2015: Expert Consult - Online: Elsevier Health Sciences.
CDC. (2015). Tetanus (Lockjaw) Vaccination. Retrieved on 22 April, 2015 from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/tetanus/
Collins, S., White, J., Ramsay, M., & Amirthalingam, G. (2015). The importance of tetanus risk assessment during wound management. IDCases, 2(1), 3-5.

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Good Tetanus Article Review Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-tetanus-article-review-example/. Published Mar 22, 2021. Accessed November 28, 2022.

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