10 Lockjaw Symptoms

By iliriana
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Lockjaw is a condition characterized by difficulty opening the mouth normally due to spasms of the facial muscles that are used for chewing. Normally, a person is able to open the mouth somewhere between 40 to 60 mm, while in lockjaw cases opening the mouth more than 35 mm is very difficult or impossible. Many people think that lockjaw is tetanus, but actually, it is only a misnomer for tetanus. Lockjaw is just one of the tetanus symptoms.

What is tetanus? Tetanus is a bacterial infection, which affects the nervous system. It is caused by the Clostridium Tetani bacteria. This bacterium enters the human body through deep puncture wounds or cuts. The symptoms usually begin about one week after the infection, but the onset ranges anywhere between three days to three weeks. Luckily, tetanus is rare today because of vaccination. Most people are vaccinated against tetanus as children in the form of a combined vaccine which is called DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis). Booster vaccines are also recommended for adolescents and adults, providing protection against these three infectious diseases.

Symptom #1: Headache

A headache is another symptom that those infected with Clostridium Tetani often experience. The first signs and symptoms tend to appear within the first week after the infection, even though as mentioned, they can start to develop anywhere between three days and up to three weeks. As a headache is a common symptom associated with many other conditions, and as many of us tend to have headaches every now and then, we usually don’t pay much attention to them.

However, if your headache is getting worse, if it is not relieved with the help of medications that you usually take, if you think that it is not related to any other condition, or if it is associated with other signs and symptoms, which can be related to tetanus, then you should contact a healthcare professional immediately. This is especially important in cases when you recently had an injury and have now started experiencing headache and other possible symptoms.


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