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On average, symptoms of tetanus begin seven to eight days after tetanus bacteria enter the body. These symptoms may include:
Spasms in the jaw muscles (lockjaw)
Stiff muscles in the neck, shoulder and back
Prolonged contraction of the facial muscles, which may produce what looks like a sneer or grimace
An arched back resulting from contraction of the back muscles
Muscle spasms and muscle rigidity in the chest, abdomen and extremities
Fever and profuse sweating
High blood pressure
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Fractured bones and ruptured muscles caused by severe muscle spasms
There is no laboratory test for tetanus. A doctor will diagnose tetanus based on your symptoms and immunization history. It is helpful if you. can recall a recent cut or puncture wound.
People who have tetanus must be treated in a hospital. Even with good hospital care, however, about 30% of patients die. Those who do survive usually suffer from muscle spasms for about three to four weeks. Once these spasms subside, recovery takes several months.