What are the Different Kinds of Tetanus Treatments?

Matt Brady

Different kinds of tetanus treatments include the administration of antibiotics, antitoxins, and sedatives. Other drugs may also be used for possible tetanus complications. Patients may be treated with a tetanus vaccine to prevent future infections as well, as the body doesn't develop an immunity to tetanus from contracting the disease. Tetanus treatments also include thoroughly cleaning the wound; completely removing whatever foreign object caused the tetanus, such as dirt or metal, is essential to diminishing and preventing the spread of infection.

A syringe and two vials of tetanus vaccine.
A syringe and two vials of tetanus vaccine.

One of the most important tetanus treatments is thoroughly cleaning out the wound. Cleaning out the wound ensures the source of the infection has been sterilized. A thorough cleaning also prevents tetanus spores from developing further, limiting the damage of the toxin.

It is recommended that adults receive a tetanus booster every 10 years.
It is recommended that adults receive a tetanus booster every 10 years.

Antibiotic tetanus treatments can be administered by injection or orally. Antibiotics are used to fight bacteria, which attack the nervous system. Without the use of antibiotics, the infection can severely damage the nervous system, causing muscle spasms and contortions as well as breathing difficulties.

Tetanus infections may cause difficulty breathing.
Tetanus infections may cause difficulty breathing.

Antitoxins are also standard tetanus treatments. Antitoxins, made from the blood of individuals who have received the tetanus vaccine, are serums with antibodies that neutralize toxin circulating in the bloodstream. Although effective, antitoxins do have their limitations; they're not able to effectively treat toxin that have penetrated nerve tissue, for instance.

Difficulty swallowing may be a symptom of tetanus.
Difficulty swallowing may be a symptom of tetanus.

Sedatives are tetanus treatments used to quell muscle spasms and contractions caused by tetanus. Untreated, such spasms can cause muscle contortions, particularly in the upper body and around the jaw. Owing to such contractions, tetanus is often referred to as lockjaw. Sedatives don't treat the source of the problem, which is the toxin in the bloodstream, but they do help stave off painful contractions while the toxin is being treated.

It's recommended that someone recovering from tetanus get a tetanus vaccine. With most diseases and infections, one builds up a natural immunity after becoming ill. For example, children who get chicken pox build up a natural immunity and don't need to get a vaccine. The body doesn't, however, built up an immunity to tetanus, which is why people should get a vaccine to ensure they don't get infected again. Of course, tetanus vaccines also work effectively in individuals who have never contracted tetanus.

There are a variety of other treatments that may be used for tetanus. For example, magnesium sulfate might be used to assist a person who has difficulty breathing. Morphine and beta blockers might also be administered to help control muscle spasms and regulate a person's vital signs.

Tetanus treatments include antibiotics.
Tetanus treatments include antibiotics.

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