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Understanding Tetanus -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Tetanus?

You should suspect tetanus if a cut or wound is followed by one or more of these symptoms:

  • Stiffness of the neck, jaw, and other muscles, often accompanied by a grotesque, grinning expression
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Irritability
  • Uncontrollable spasms of the jaw, called lockjaw, and neck muscles
  • Painful, involuntary contraction of other muscles

In some cases, symptoms will develop in the absence of any cut or wound that you can recall. In addition, you may notice restlessness, lack of appetite, and drooling.

Recommended Related to Children's Vaccines

Seasonal Flu Shot and Nasal Spray

Each year during flu season, at least one in every 20 people in the U.S. will come down with influenza or flu. Some years, that number can be as high as one in every five. For most of us, getting the flu means several days of feeling pretty miserable. Headaches, body aches, fever, chills, fatigue, and exhaustion are all part of the disease running its course. But then most people recover on their own. But there are some people -- primarily young children, older adults, and people with chronic health...

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Call Your Doctor About Tetanus If:

You are bitten by an animal or wounded by an object that might be contaminated with dirt, feces, or dust, and you have not been immunized against tetanus or received a booster within the last five years. Tetanus infection can be fatal and should be treated as soon as possible.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 11, 2015

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