Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

For cases of foodborne botulism, doctors sometimes clear out the digestive system by inducing vomiting and giving medications to induce bowel movements. If you have botulism in a wound, a doctor may need to remove infected tissue surgically.

Antitoxin

If you're diagnosed early with foodborne or wound botulism, injected antitoxin reduces the risk of complications. The antitoxin attaches itself to toxin that's still circulating in your bloodstream and keeps it from harming your nerves.

The antitoxin cannot, however, reverse the damage that's been done. Fortunately, nerves do regenerate. Many people recover fully, but it may take months and extended rehabilitation therapy.

A different type of antitoxin, known as botulism immune globulin, is used to treat infants.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are recommended for the treatment of wound botulism. However, these medications are not advised for other types of botulism because they can hasten the release of the toxins.

Breathing assistance

If you're having trouble breathing, you will probably need a mechanical ventilator for up to several weeks as the effects of the toxin gradually lessen. The ventilator forces air into your lungs through a tube inserted in your airway through your nose or mouth.

Rehabilitation

As you recover, you may also need therapy to improve your speech, swallowing and other functions affected by the disease.

June 13, 2015