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Treatment for tetanus should be started as soon as possible when the first symptoms appear, such as jaw muscle contraction and fever, after a cut or wound in the skin, to avoid the development of serious complications such as difficulty moving body parts, difficulty breathing or even coma, for example.
Treatment is usually carried out in the hospital so that it is frequently monitored and it can be possible to assess whether the treatment is being effective, and involves the use of drugs that help block the activity of toxins, eliminate bacteria and relieve the symptoms, in addition to preventing complications.
Therefore, when there is a suspicion of being infected with tetanus, it is recommended to go to the hospital immediately to start treatment through:
- Injection of antitoxin directly into the blood to block the action of tetanus toxins, preventing worsening of symptoms and nerve destruction;
- Using antibiotics, such as metronidazole or penicillin, to eliminate tetanus bacteria and prevent the production of more toxins;
- Injecting muscle relaxants directly into the blood, such as diazepam, to relieve muscle contraction caused by toxin damage to nerves;
- Ventilation with appliances used in the most severe cases in which the breathing muscles are very affected
Depending on the severity of the infection, feeding may be required intravenously or through a tube that goes from the nose to the stomach. Often, it is still necessary to introduce a rectal probe to remove the stool from the body.
After treatment, the tetanus vaccine should be re-vaccinated as if it were the first time, because you are no longer protected against the disease.
Treatment for neonatal tetanus
Neonatal tetanus, better known as seven-day disease, is also a disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani and affects newborn babies, most often in the first 28 days of life.
The symptoms of neonatal tetanus in the baby can be confused with other diseases and are difficulty breastfeeding, constant crying, irritability and muscle problems.
This disease can be transmitted by contamination of the umbilical stump, that is, when cutting the umbilical cord after birth with non-sterile instruments, such as scissors and tweezers. The treatment of neonatal tetanus should be done with the baby hospitalized, preferably in an ICU, as it will be necessary to administer drugs such as anti-tetanus serum, antibiotics and sedatives. See more about the transmission of tetanus.
If tetanus is not treated quickly, it can lead to the emergence of some serious complications as a result of muscle contractures, with difficulty moving parts of the body, such as the mouth, moving the neck and even walking.
Other complications that can appear because of tetanus are fractures, secondary infections, laryngospasm, which are involuntary movements in the vocal cords, pneumonia and blockage of the most important artery in the lung, leaving the person with difficulty breathing and, in the most severe cases, in a coma.
What to do to prevent it
The tetanus vaccine is the most recommended way to prevent infection by the bacteria that causes tetanus. This vaccine can be given to babies and adults and three doses must be given to ensure the full effectiveness of the vaccine. Know when to get the DTPa vaccine.