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Tetanus, as a Pathophysiological Process of the Muscular System
Muscles are the tissues network of body with a rich supply of blood. According to Advamag (2007), because of their rich supply of blood, muscles are rarely susceptible to infections. However, if a person does not take good care of the body, infections can cause serious muscle ailments. One of such serious muscle ailments is tetanus. Tetanus is a muscle illness caused by bacteria, Clostridium tetani or its spores, present in the soil (Farrar et al., 2000). The bacteria get into the body mainly through open, deep wounds, which get into contact with infected soil. Once in the body, the bacteria discharge a toxin, which affects the motor neurons present at neuromuscular junctions.
As Matthews (n.d) explains, once the motor neurons have been affected, they stimulate the muscle fibers repetitively, consequently leading to muscle spasms and rigidity. According to Tamarkin (2006), muscle spasms are the impulsive muscle contractions, which are usually extremely painful. The biological research shows that these muscle spasms can cause pain, which is enough to cause broken bones. The disease has various symptoms. Among the first signs of tetanus is clumsiness in walking and a tendency of losing balance and falling down because of weakness in the pelvic and leg muscles. According to Schon et al. (1994), there are instances when the muscles tissues are covered with fatty muscles, which might lead to the wrong perception that the muscles are enlarging.
The research shows that tetanus is a deadly muscle disease, which can result to death if not diagnosed early. The research shows that if a baby boy is infected by tetanus at infancy stage of 1-2 years and not treated early, by the age of 10 he would be confined to a wheelchair. Another muscle weakness occurs later in life and this is the same in both sexes. With such muscle weakness, the first signs show up at adolescent stage. According to Luisto (1993), the signs are visible, especially on the muscles of the face, shoulders, and arms. In some cases, the lips and hips may be affected. Death from tetanus usually occurs when the breathing muscles are affected leading to failure in breathing. Currently, th eresearch indicates that there is no cure for this disease. However, as Ahmadsyah (1985) explains, some drugs have been developed to help manage tetanus. According to this author, the procedures aimed at treating tetanus are targeted at two things. One is to limit and prevent the growth of the bacteria by killing it, so that it cannot produce the infectious toxin. Second, the treatment aims at neutralizing any toxin that might have already been produced in the body of infected person. Antibiotics, such as metrodinazole are used in neutralizing the toxin. In all instances, the first step in treating tetanus is through wound cleansing to remove any bacteria present. In cases where the antibiotics fail, an antitoxin, Tetanus Immune Globulin (TIG) is used. For people who are severely affected, physical therapy is highly useful in ensuring that the infected person maintains general good health.
According to Puerto (2002), treating tetanus has proven to be difficult up-to-date, the main focus in managing this disease is on prevention measures. Most of the adult tetanus cases are prevented through active immunization. Good hygiene and use of sterile objects in handling babies are some of the ways of preventing neonatal tetanus. According to Puerto (2002), babies should start active immunization against tetanus at the age of two months. The two vaccines that have been recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are diphtheria tetanus and acellular pertussis. However, the research shows that good care of open wounds and early visits to a doctor for any deep cuts and wounds are some of the easiest ways through which people can avoid being infected with tetanus.