Here Is What Actually Happens To Your Body If You Get Tetanus

Most people don't think about tetanus until someone steps on a nail or gets scraped by a piece of rusty metal. Much like rabies, tetanus can seem like a minor infection. In reality, though, tetanus causes severe symptoms; they occur when an individual receives a cut and becomes infected with the Clostridium tetani bacterium - and the results may prove dangerous.

Once infected, a progression of seemingly benign tetanus symptoms can take root before a diagnosis and treatment plan are even developed. However, learning the risk factors for the disease and knowing how to recognize its onset can help you survive.


  • Certain Physical Damage Can Introduce Clostridium Tetani Into Your System

    Spores from the Clostridium tetani bacterium cause tetanus, and they generally exist in soil, animal excrement and intestines, and even adulterated heroin. The spores typically enter the human body through open gashes

    Sufferers might scrape a foot then step in polluted dirt, allowing the resilient spores to enter the body. Smaller maladies are occasionally ignored and improperly cleaned, allowing the bacteria to become more threatening.

  • You May Experience Lockjaw While The Disease Incubates

    In 75% of generalized tetanus cases, lockjaw occurs before other symptoms like neck stiffness, abdominal muscles, and difficulty swallowing. 

    Lockjaw, also known as trismus, causes spasms in the jaw muscles, forcing the sufferer's mouth to clamp shut. People with this affliction appear to be smiling or grimacing.

  • The Disease May Make You Irritable

    You run the risk of experiencing increased irritability and restlessness when infected with tetanus, tied to the bulbar and paraspinal muscles being affected. Additionally, those with tetanus may struggle to swallow; sufferers can also sweat incessantly and drool.

  • Painful Body Spasms May Plague You For Weeks

    Tetanus-caused body spasms may start in your back or occur in your vocal cords, respiratory system, or in any skeletal muscles. The painful contractions can occur frequently and stem from a myriad of stimuli.

    Touch, light, loud noises, a light breeze, or other minute occurrences may trigger exceptionally long episodes. 


  • You May Suffer Bone Damage

    If your spasms aren't under control, they can cause bone damage. Spasms that last long enough can fracture the spine. Joints may also dislocate due to the painful muscle twitches.

  • You May Have Difficulty Breathing
    Photo: Lance Cpl. Kevin Clark / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    You May Have Difficulty Breathing

    If the tetanus infection causes the vocal cords to spasm, sufferers may develop blocked airways and apnea. Some people also have trouble eating. In situations like these, medical professionals provide an artificial respirator.

    Moreover, infected patients sometimes require life-support to overcome nervous system attack. Certain tetanus patients even endure respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.