Lockjaw or tetanus is an infectious disease that is best known for its onset of symptoms of paralysis. Above all, various strains of bacteria are responsible for wound infection, which can spread over the wound over time.
What is stasis spasm?
Lockjaw, also known as tetanus, is an infectious disease. This is where bacteria get into the bloodstream through a dirty wound. The musculature then cramps due to a poison. This causes paralysis. There are several types of lockjaw. Neonatal tetanus is the most common disease worldwide. Newborns can get sick with it. Those affected by this form are mainly found in countries where medical care is inadequate. For meaning of hepatosis in English, please visit sportingology.com.
In Central Europe, generalized tetanus is the most common form of tetanus. After childbirth, mothers can suffer from puerperal tetanus, which occurs due to an infection in the uterus. Infection of surgical wounds can also lead to tetanus. This is postoperative tetanus.
If the paralysis is limited to just one part of the body, it is local tetanus. A special form of it is the cephalic lockjaw, which is caused by injuries in the head area. 30% of all sufferers die from tetanus if it is not treated.
A dirty wound is the most common cause of tetanus. A specific bacterium called Clostridium tetani needs to enter the body to cause tetanus infection. This then releases a toxin. If the environment is low in oxygen, the bacterium can reproduce. The bacterium prefers to find this environment in open wounds.
Lockjaw pathogens can occur worldwide because they are a natural part of the human body and the environment. By forming spores, the pathogen can protect itself from unfavorable influences in its environment. His genetic data is then unassailable, but he can no longer reproduce like this.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The first symptoms are rather unspecific. They express themselves in a general feeling of illness with headaches, tiredness and dizziness. As the condition progresses, the muscles begin to ache and feel unusually stiff. These muscle problems are particularly noticeable in the face and neck and affect facial expressions. This can lead to strange grimaces.
Over time, swallowing disorders and cramping of the chewing muscles can also occur. The latter causes a locked mouth or jaw, the hallmark symptom of the condition. The larynx muscles can also be affected by the spasms, which means that the patient is no longer able to speak. They sweat, their blood pressure rises and a certain irritability and restlessness spreads.
Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) is possible. In some cases, fever and chills occur. In the further course, the muscle cramps spread to the whole body and severe cramps occur in the abdominal and back muscles. These spasms can be so severe that the body assumes a completely different position than the norm, breaking vertebrae.
The muscles of the organs, such as the bladder or intestines, can also be affected, so that bowel movements and urination are no longer possible. If the disease is not treated, it usually leads to death due to respiratory paralysis.
Course of the disease
The first symptoms of tetanus are pain in the head and muscles ( muscle pain, dizziness and sweating. Jaw pain and a permanent grin due to the spasm of the facial muscles can also be symptoms of the initial stage. The paralysis occurs from the head down. The painful spasms of tetanus can occur every minute and are triggered by stimuli.
After the head, the back and abdomen become paralyzed. The limbs follow. If cramps occur in the stomach and back area, they can lead to fractures of the spine. The final stage of paralysis affects the larynx and diaphragm. Should the latter cramp, shortness of breath occurs. The patient may die from lack of air.
The disease is accompanied by a high fever (over 40 degrees Celsius), which can lead to death if left untreated. Tetanus toxin, the toxin that causes tetanus, can be detected in a laboratory, helping to provide a definitive diagnosis early in the disease process.
If lockjaw progresses untreated, the spasms spread to other parts of the body. A typical secondary disease is the so-called jammed jaw or trismus, which is usually accompanied by cramping of the face and tongue muscles. The cramps eventually spread to the muscles of the arms and legs, ribs, larynx, and diaphragm.
Muscle rigidity occurs in the long back and abdominal muscles, as a result of which the affected person can hardly move. Lockjaw is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as high fever, vertebral injuries and breathing difficulties. If the diaphragm is involved, there is an acute risk of suffocation. Furthermore, tetanus can affect the autonomic nervous system and cause functional disorders.
Then there is sometimes tachycardia, sweating and circulatory disorders in the arms and legs, which can lead to further complications if there is no or insufficient treatment. The therapy also carries risks. In addition to the usual side effects and interactions that antibiotics, tetanus immunoglobulin and muscle relaxants can cause, secondary infections (during the surgical treatment of the wound) and psychological problems as a result of a longer hospital stay can occur.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the affected person notices a decrease in their well-being, if they feel ill or generally feel unwell, a doctor’s visit is necessary. In most cases, fatigue, dizziness and headaches are due to a health problem that needs to be diagnosed. Disorders of the muscular system and cramps are an alarm signal from the organism. A doctor should be consulted so that medical tests can be performed to clarify the cause. If the swallowing process can no longer be carried out without symptoms, there is cause for concern.
If the sufferer experiences a lock of the mouth or jaw, the help of a doctor should be sought immediately. If there is inner restlessness or irritability, a doctor’s visit is necessary. Heart rhythm disorders, fever, or chills also need to be evaluated and treated. In the event of breathing difficulties, there is a need for action as quickly as possible.
In severe cases, the impairments lead to an emergency situation. If an acute health change develops, an emergency doctor must be alerted. Persons present must take first aid measures until his arrival. Otherwise there is a risk of premature death. A protective posture should also be interpreted as a warning signal. If the person concerned can no longer move as usual due to pain or cramps, he needs medical care.
Treatment & Therapy
Once lockjaw or tetanus has broken out, there is no longer any antidote to the tetanus toxin. The patient is treated merely by relieving the symptoms. It is important to isolate the patient from stimuli. The healing is best linked and in a dark, quiet room.
The wound through which the pathogen entered the patient’s blood must be thoroughly cleaned. The administration of a vaccine ( tetanus vaccination ) against tetanus is also important as a preventative measure, as this prevents the toxin from spreading further.
Patients require 24-hour medical supervision. They are given drugs to relax muscles and antibiotics to boost the immune system. Even if the patient is treated, tetanus can lead to death. The death rate is up to 20%.
Lockjaw or tetanus is best prevented by vaccination. These are usually available free of charge from your family doctor. Furthermore, wounds must be kept clean by disinfecting germs and bacteria in order to avoid infection.
It can take up to three months for the physical effects of tetanus to fully subside. Comprehensive follow-up care can promote recovery. Rest and a lot of rest are important first, as the body is still very weak at the beginning. Patients should refrain from physical exercise and in any case get sick leave.
At the same time, the symptoms must be observed. The skin changes should have subsided after three weeks at the latest. During the follow-up examination, the doctor checks the puncture site and, if necessary, carries out a blood test. If the course is positive, the patient can gradually wean off the antibiotics.
After three months, the doctor should be consulted again. By this point, the symptoms should be completely gone, since the toxin has since been killed off by the antibiotics. If symptoms persist, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
In the event of cramps, problems with the circulatory system or a high fever, which also increases rapidly, the emergency doctor should be consulted. If the course is severe, multi-organ failure occurs and the patient ultimately dies. In this case, follow-up care is required by the relatives, who can be psychologically cared for if necessary.
You can do that yourself
A lockjaw must be clarified promptly by a doctor. Symptoms should be closely monitored and reported to the doctor before you see a doctor. The doctor must also be informed about the trigger so that the diagnosis can be made quickly. If present, the object that caused the injury can be handed over to the doctor.
In addition, sufficient rest is recommended in the case of tetanus. Affected people should not exert themselves and protect the affected area. The place where the bacteria entered the skin must be disinfected if possible. Sufficient cooling is also recommended. Rest after a tetanus vaccination. Extreme stress should be avoided to ensure vaccination protection.
Which measures are necessary in the case of tetanus depends on the symptoms. In any case, a doctor must be consulted immediately. The injury should also be closely monitored. Larger bleeding must be stopped. Lockjaw can impair motor skills. Therefore, when alerting the emergency doctor, it must be ensured that the person concerned remains calm and does not get into dangerous situations.