Treatment

Since there's no cure for tetanus, treatment consists of wound care, medications to ease symptoms and supportive care.

Wound care

Cleaning the wound is essential to preventing growth of tetanus spores. This involves removing dirt, foreign objects and dead tissue from the wound.

Medications

  • Antitoxin. Your doctor may give you a tetanus antitoxin, such as tetanus immune globulin. However, the antitoxin can neutralize only toxin that hasn't yet bonded to nerve tissue.
  • Antibiotics. Your doctor may also give you antibiotics, either orally or by injection, to fight tetanus bacteria.
  • Vaccine. All people with tetanus should receive the tetanus vaccine as soon as they're diagnosed with the condition.
  • Sedatives. Doctors generally use powerful sedatives to control muscle spasms.
  • Other drugs. Other medications, such as magnesium sulfate and certain beta blockers, might be used to regulate involuntary muscle activity, such as your heartbeat and breathing. Morphine might be used for this purpose as well as sedation.

Supportive therapies

Severe tetanus infection often requires a long stay in an intensive care setting. Since sedatives can inhibit breathing, you might temporarily need a ventilator.