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Tetanus, also known as 'Lockjaw' is a bacterial disease that affects one's nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of jaw and neck muscles. Tetanus can interfere with one's ability to breathe and can be life threatening condition.Common signs and symptoms of tetanus include spasms and stiffness in jaw muscles (trismus), stiffness of neck muscles,difficulty in swallowing and stiffness of abdominal muscles. Many people experience painful body spasms lasting for several minutes, typically triggered by minor occurrences, such as a draft, loud noise, physical touch or light.
HOW IS TETANUS DIAGNOSED?
Tetanus is diagnosed on basis of physical exam, medical and immunization history, and the signs and symptoms of muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. Laboratory tests generally aren't helpful for diagnosing tetanus.
HOW IS TETANUS TREATED?
There's no cure for tetanus, treatment consists of wound care, medications to ease symptoms and supportive care. Doctors may prescribe penicillin or metronidazole for tetanus treatment. These antibiotics prevent the bacteria from multiplying and producing the neurotoxin that causes muscle spasms and stiffness. In treating muscle spasms and stiffness, patients may be prescribed:
• Anticonvulsants - such as diazepam (Valium) - relaxes the muscles to prevent spasms, reduces anxiety, and works as a sedative.
• Muscle relaxants - such as baclofen - suppresses nerve signals from the brain to the spinal cord, resulting in less muscle tension.
• Neuromuscular blocking agents - these medications block the signals from nerves to muscle fibers and are useful in controlling muscle spasms. They include pancuronium and vecuronium.