What are the signs and symptoms of lockjaw?


Quick Answer

Signs and symptoms of lockjaw, also known as tetanus, include muscle spasms in the stomach, headache, jaw cramping and painful muscle stiffness all over the body, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing, seizures, fever, high blood pressure and a racing heart.

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Full Answer

Tetanus is also called lockjaw because one of the classic symptoms is the tightening of the jaw muscles, often to the point where patients cannot open their mouths, states the CDC. Seek treatment for tetanus immediately because complications can be serious, including blood clots that migrate to the lungs, pneumonia and trouble breathing. Ten to 20 percent of tetanus cases are fatal.

Individuals contract tetanus through a bacteria found in animal droppings, dust and dirt, according to Healthline. The condition often infects individuals through an injury that allows the bacteria to enter the bloodstream, such as an animal bite, deep cut or other wound. Tetanus can be prevented by getting routine vaccinations. Individuals need a booster vaccine every 10 years to keep their immunity up to date. Because most Americans are vaccinated, lockjaw is not a common ailment, but other countries in which vaccine programs are not as strong report more cases.

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