If you've cut yourself outdoors, you may have been exposed to the bacteria that causes tetanus. It's a good idea to seek treatment at an urgent care clinic as soon as possible, since tetanus can be fatal. It can cause muscle weakness and paralysis, and it can cause you to become unable to breathe if it paralyzes the muscles in your chest. An urgent care clinic can disinfect your wound and clean it in order to reduce the chance that you'll develop tetanus. To learn more about what causes tetanus, its symptoms and why you should visit an urgent care if you think you're at risk of developing it, read on.
What Causes Tetanus?
Tetanus is caused by a neurotoxin that's produced by the Clostridium tetani bacteria. Clostridium tetani is commonly found outdoors. It's present in dust, in the soil and in animal droppings. If you cut yourself outdoors, the bacteria can enter into your bloodstream through the cut and start reproducing. As it multiplies, the bacteria will produce the neurotoxin that causes tetanus.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tetanus?
The neurotoxin produced by the bacteria prevents your nerves and muscles from communicating correctly with each other. As the neurotoxin builds up in your body, you'll start to experience painful muscle spasms along with muscle paralysis. Tetanus can cause eating to become difficult when the muscles that allow you to swallow become paralyzed, and it can make it hard for you to breathe if it paralyzes the muscles in your chest.
If you think that you've been exposed to the bacteria that causes tetanus, you should go to an urgent care clinic as soon as possible. You shouldn't wait for symptoms to appear, as they can rapidly progress until you're unable to breathe at all.
How Can An Urgent Care Clinic Help Prevent You From Getting Tetanus?
An urgent care clinic can clean your cut and sterilize it to eliminate any bacteria that have been introduced to it. If your wound is deep or irregularly shaped, it will be sutured shut in order to help it heal better and prevent any more bacteria from entering it. They're also able to prescribe antibiotics, which will help kill any bacteria that have gotten into your bloodstream through the cut, including the bacteria that cause tetanus. An urgent care clinic can also give you a vaccine that helps your body create antibodies against the tetanus neurotoxin, which reduces the likelihood that you'll develop tetanus from this cut and from any cuts in the future.
If you have a cut and think that you may have been exposed to the bacteria that causes tetanus, go to an urgent care clinic as soon as possible. Cleaning the wound early reduces the chance that you'll develop tetanus or another bacterial infection. Don't wait and see if tetanus symptoms start to develop from your cut — if you're experiencing tetanus symptoms, you'll need to head directly to the emergency department, as you may need to be placed on a ventilator if your chest muscles start to become paralyzed.