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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

What Vaccines Do Preteens and Teens Need?

If you have older kids who got all their vaccines when they were little, you might think they're protected against those diseases for life. But as they grow up, the effects of some childhood immunizations wane, so teens need boosters to stay safe. Children get other vaccines the first time between the ages of 11 and 16 because that’s when they work best. And if your kids haven’t yet gotten all of the recommended childhood vaccines, now is a great time to catch up.

Read the What Vaccines Do Preteens and Teens Need? 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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