We may experience health problems and sometimes, it is best to take a preventative approach rather than waiting until a serious issue occurs. That is often the case if you are injured and run the risk of developing tetanus, also known as lockjaw. Most people are aware of the need for a tetanus shot if you step on a nail or are otherwise injured where some type of rusty metal is concerned, but the fact of the matter is, it may be necessary in other cases as well. Understanding more about tetanus and the need for a shot can help to keep you safe in such a situation.
The bacterial infection that is known as tetanus can be a very serious problem. Not only can it cause painful muscle spasms, it can even kill you if it is not treated properly and on time. Fortunately, there is a tetanus vaccine available that can make it possible to prevent this disease. Thanks to the widespread use of this vaccine, it is very rare for adults in the United States to have a problem with lockjaw but they do need to be vaccinated. If they are not provided with the vaccination and are infected with the bacteria that causes tetanus, up to 20% of the people will die as a result of it.
First of all, it’s important to recognize that you cannot get the bacteria that lead to lockjaw from another person. The only way to get it is through a wound or cut. The tetanus bacteria can be found in many areas of the world, and it exists in the world around us at all times. It is commonly present in dust, soil and even manure. If you come in contact with it, your skin provides an effective barrier, but even if you have a tiny scratch, it is possible that you can develop lockjaw.
It is even more likely for you to develop lockjaw if you have a deep puncture wound. This is the case if you are cut with a knife or if you have a nail puncture your skin. As a result of the deeper wound, it is possible for the bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to various parts of the body. It can also travel through the central nervous system, leading to serious issues.
Some vaccines are only given once in your lifetime but that isn’t true with a tetanus shot. You likely received a shot when you were a child in the shoulder but if you didn’t, it is necessary to have a three-dose series to get caught up. Even if you have the shot at some point in your life, it is still necessary to get an updated vaccine booster every 10 years. It is the only way to protect yourself against this bacteria and the possibility of lockjaw.
The toxin that is produced by the bacteria (tetanus) can result in a number of different symptoms. The symptoms begin to show up approximately a week after the infection takes place but it can be anywhere from 3 days up to 3 weeks or at times, even longer. The most common symptom is, as the name would suggest, a stiff jaw and sometimes, it can become locked. Other symptoms include muscle stiffness, headaches, difficulty swallowing, sweating, fever, irritability, palpitations, high blood pressure and muscle spasms in the face.
Most people are able to get a tetanus shot without any type of negative reaction but there are also individuals who suffer side effects from the shot. If you had a severe allergic reaction to the tetanus shot in the past, you should not have another one again. In addition, you should speak to your doctor if you have a history of certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy. Women who are pregnant are cleared to have the shot and according to the general guidelines, pregnant women will receive the vaccine each time they get pregnant to prevent an issue with pertussis.
There are a variety of ingredients in the tetanus shot that include diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis toxins. These have been made non-toxic but they still generate an immune response in the individual to help prevent the problem if you come in contact with the bacteria at other times. Live bacteria are not included in this type of shot. If you have been injured or need a booster shot, you can come to Better Faster Urgent Care. We will make sure that you get the shot and get you on your way quickly.