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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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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

Understanding Chickenpox -- Symptoms

Chickenpox appears as a very itchy rash that spreads from the torso to the neck, face, and limbs. Lasting seven to 10 days, the rash progresses from red bumps to fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) that drain and scab over. Vesicles may also appear in the mouth, on the scalp, around the eyes, or on the genitals and can be very itchy. This cycle repeats itself in new areas of the body until finally, after about two weeks, all of the sores have healed. The disease is contagious until all the pox have...

Read the Understanding Chickenpox -- Symptoms article > >

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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