Common Symptoms of Tetanus

What Is Tetanus?

Tetanus is a severe bacterial infection that affects the nerves and muscles [1]. It often begins with stiffness in the jaw. Hence the name lockjaw. The stiffness spreads to the neck and other parts of the body as the disease worsens. In cases where it affects the heart and muscles that aid respiration, death may occur by suffocation.

Clostridium tetani, the bacteria that cause tetanus, are abundant worldwide and are majorly found in the soil. You develop tetanus when the causal bacterium enters your body through broken skin, such as wounds, cuts, and even small scratches. This is the only way the infection is contracted. It is not transmitted between humans.

Infection with tetanus can be quite debilitating. It is often fatal if left untreated. Fortunately, some vaccines can prevent the condition from developing in the first place. Vaccines are the best defense against the disease. In the US, where vaccination is common, the occurrence of this disease is highly unusual.

If you get a tetanus infection, you often will only begin to show symptoms about eight days after infection [2]. It may happen days earlier or take as long as three weeks post-infection. If you know the symptoms, it will help you know when to seek medical help. This guide will teach you the signs and symptoms to look out for if you believe you’ve been exposed to this infection.