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.
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 medication, known as botulism immune globulin, is used to treat infants.
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.
As you recover, you may also need therapy to improve your speech, swallowing and other functions affected by the disease.
July 19, 2012
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- Principles of home canning. United States Department of Agriculture. http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html. Accessed March 22, 2012.
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