Tetanus – symptoms in humans, first signs,treatment, ways of infection

Tetanus is an acute bacterial disease in which
severe development of the nervous system occurs
tonic tension of skeletal muscles and generalized convulsions.
Большинство людей знают, что столбняк крайне опасен и очень
often leads to painful death. What is this disease? What kind
symptoms it manifests itself? Why death is frequent
the outcome? How can you protect yourself? What to do if the infection is all
did it happen? More detail in our article.

Tetanus disease

Tetanus disease

Tetanus belongs to the group of neuroinfections. This disease can
affect not only humans, but also all warm-blooded animals. More often
total signs of tetanus are found in rural residents
terrain This is due to the fact that the pathogen can long
time to be in the soil.

The disease is not transmitted when ordinary contact with the carrier
bacteria. In order for a person to become infected, it is necessary to hit
pathogen on the wound surface.

For a person, not the microorganism itself is dangerous, but its products.
vital functions, because they contain the strongest biological
poison that affects the nervous system: first the peripheral and then
central. The toxin is safe if swallowed because it does not
able to be absorbed through the mucous membrane. He collapses

  • exposure to alkaline environment
  • sunshine
  • when heated.


The cause of tetanus is clostridium spores.
tetani in the wound. In the absence of oxygen, they turn into active
forms. The bacterium itself is harmless. But she produces
strongest biological poison – tetanus toxin, inferior in
only botulinum toxin toxins.

Ways of tetanus infection:

  • stabbed, cut or torn wounds;
  • splinters, skin abrasions;
  • burns / frostbite;
  • animal bites and fractures;
  • umbilical wound in newborns.

People who are often forced to give injections are also exposed.
more at risk. Any injury (including bites and burns) increases the risk
tetanus infection.

The most common causes of tetanus death are:

  • choking as a result of a long spasm of the vocal cords or
    respiratory muscles;
  • heart failure;
  • spinal fracture;
  • pain shock.

In children, tetanus is complicated by pneumonia, at a later date –
indigestion, anemia.

Tetanus disease развивается исключительно при попадании
microorganism on the wound surface.

Incubation period

  1. Incubation period заболевания может длиться от нескольких
    days to one month, on average from 7 to 14 days.
  2. The shorter the incubation period, the harder the illness
    and higher chance of death.
  3. The farther from the central nervous system is the focus
    damage, the longer the sp. With a short incubation period
    the disease is more severe. Короткий ИП отмечается при
    injuries of the neck, head and face.

Симптомы столбняка у человека и фото

During the course of the disease, 4 periods are distinguished:

  1. Incubation.
  2. Start.
  3. The height
  4. Recovery.


On the photo of a man tetanus

On average, the incubation period lasts about 2 weeks. On
the beginning of this classification is given 2 days. In this period
The main symptoms of tetanus are: pain in the area
penetration of clostridia. The wound in this place is usually already
dragged on. Then there is a trismus – a spasm of the masticatory muscles.
The jaws are compressed convulsively, so that not all patients can open

Symptoms appear during the height of the illness.
skeletal muscle. Hypertension of the muscles is accompanied by severe pain.
Extensive reflexes predominate, which is manifested by rigidity
occipital muscles, head thrown back, over-bending
spine (opistonus), straightening limbs. Hypertonus
muscles involved in breathing leads to hypoxia.

Symptoms of tetanus in humans:

  • spasm of masticatory muscles (difficult to open mouth);
  • convulsions of the muscles of the face (there is a “sardonic” smile, lips
    stretched, their corners down, forehead wrinkled);
  • Swallowing is impaired due to muscle spasm of the pharynx;
  • cramps, covering all the muscles of the body in a downward direction
    (man arching, standing on the heels and the back of his head –
    opisthotonus). Painful cramps occur even when
    slight irritation;
  • bouts of seizures occur in response to any annoying factor
    (light, sound, noise).

On ранней стадии столбняк имеет похожие со многими болезнями
symptoms for example with gingivitis and inflammation of the mandibular
joints. Indeed, during the development of tetanus sticks in the body
masticatory muscles are in constant tension and sometimes
are twitching. Gradually, the infection begins to look like epilepsy and
strong attack of hysteria.

The action of the pathogen, as we have already noted, is extremely
quickly, moreover, the first symptoms of tetanus in humans
are observed within a few hours from the moment it hits
an organism.

The products of infection through the mucous membrane
absorbed, which determines their absolute safety when
ingested, in addition, exposure ultraviolet and heating
leads to a very rapid death of pathogens.


It is worth noting that the most dangerous period of tetanus is considered to be
10 по 14 день заболевания. It is at this time the patient
there is a rapid metabolism, metabolic acidosis and
excessive sweating. Onчинается кашель и больному порой очень
hard to clear your throat. Plus all this can be observed
convulsive seizures during coughing and swallowing (see photo). 

The first signs of tetanus in adults

In adults there is immunity against infection, due to
vaccination. To maintain the desired concentration of protective antibodies in
blood requires revaccination every 10 years. With
lack of natural protection in adults, as in children,
develop acute symptoms:

  • his earliest symptom may manifest – stupid pulling
    pain in the area where penetrated damaged skin
  • tension and jerky contraction of the masticatory muscles that
    leads to difficulty opening the mouth;
  • difficult and painful swallowing due to convulsive
    muscle spasm of the pharynx.

How does the disease in children?

Infections of newborns with tetanus occur mainly when
childbirth outside a hospital when they are accepted by people who are not
having a medical education, in unsanitary conditions, and
umbilical cord ligation is performed with non-sterile items
(cut with dirty scissors, knife, and tied with ordinary
untreated thread). Incubation period короткий, 3-8 дней,
in all cases generalized severe or very severe
severe form.

More often всего столбняк у детей встречается в возрасте от трех до
seven years old. Mostly this disease has summer seasonality and
covers more villagers.

There are certain symptoms that manifest when full
development of tetanus. The child has:

  • the muscles of the legs, arms and body are in great tension;
  • they do not relax even during sleep;
  • the outlines of muscles begin to appear, especially in
  • after three to four days the abdominal wall muscles
    harden, lower limbs a large amount of time are
    in the extended position, their movement is limited;
  • breathing is interrupted and quickened;
  • swallowing is difficult, causing pain when breathing.

If the parents on time showed the medical staff of the child,
which tetanus treatment takes place gradually and over time
symptoms of this disease disappear. Duration of this
stage reaches 2 months.

On протяжении всего этого периода ребенок очень подвержен риску
development of a variety of complications. Due to this it is required
constant monitoring of his condition.

Стадии заболевания

As with any infectious process, the clinical picture
tetanus is made up of several successive periods.
There are the following stages of the disease:

Stages of tetanus Description and Symptoms
Lightweight Длиться не более 21 дня. Characterized by moderate
spasmodic facial and spinal muscles. Clonic-tonic convulsions
may be completely absent. Temperature can stay in
within normal limits or be slightly too high.
Average The moderate degree of the disease is manifested in the progression
muscle lesions with typical symptoms, tachycardia and severe
increase in body temperature. The frequency of seizures is not more than one –
twice per hour, and their duration is no more than half a minute.
Heavy Symptoms: Cramps frequent and fairly intense, appears
characteristic facial expression.
Extremely heavy Particularly severe is encephalitic tetanus.
(Brunner) with damage to the elongated and upper spinal
brain (cardiovascular, respiratory centers), tetanus
neonatal and gynecological tetanus.

Possible complications

Tetanus prognosis depends on the form of the course, which is the harder
the shorter the incubation period and the faster the deployment
clinical symptoms. Heavy and fulminant forms of tetanus
characterized by a poor prognosis, with non-evidence
timely assistance may be fatal. Light forms
tetanus with proper therapy can be safely cured.

Any serious illness leaves its marks and tetanus does not
an exception. Because of it, there are such complications:

  • Sepsis;
  • Breaks in muscle tissue and ligaments;
  • Fractures;
  • Inflammation of the lungs and bronchus.


Tetanus is a severe preventable infection.
vaccination. In the case when the disease still occurred,
Early diagnosis is required. The sooner this is suspected
the disease, the greater the chance of survival is sick.

From laboratory methods, acceptable and most relevant.
bacteriological diagnosis, because it is aimed at the selection and
identification of the pathogen and the detection of its toxin in the test
material (smear microscopy, histological
tissue research).

Treatment of tetanus in humans

Tetanus treatment should only be carried out in a hospital setting.
The main goal is neutralization and early elimination
toxin from the body.

The wound through which the infection occurred, cut off
tetanus toxoid, then it is widely opened and carried out
careful surgical treatment. The faster the treatment
anti-tetanus serum, the easier the symptoms are tolerated
tetanus and smaller consequences for the body carries

In the subsequent preparations are usually used for wound healing.
containing proteolytic enzymes (chymotrypsin, trypsin and

Tetanus treatment includes:

  1. the fight against tetanus pathogens in the primary focus area
    (opening of the wound, removal of dead skin, sanation and
  2. the introduction of tetanus toxoid; stopping the strong
  3. maintenance of vital activity of all body systems;
  4. prevention of complications;
  5. Nutrition rich in vitamins and microelements for
    immunity enhancement.

It is desirable that the patient is treated in a separate
ward, which will eliminate the negative impact on it of emerging external

In addition, it is important to have a permanent post for
systematic monitoring of the patient’s general condition.
With отсутствии возможности самостоятельного принятия пищи
its introduction is ensured through the use of a probe.

If a person has had tetanus, then long-term immunity
it does not form, and it can again become infected with this disease.


Prevention столбняка может быть:

  • non-specific: injury prevention, contamination of wounds,
    health education, thorough surgical
    processing with timely dressings, observance of rules of an asepsis
    and antiseptics in hospitals;
  • specific: vaccination.

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