Of all the injuries that you thought could hurt you, getting a splinter was not one of them. You work as a contractor and have had many splinters over the years. This one was worse, though. It dug down deep, and it was not coming out easily. The area became red and swollen, and you eventually had to go to see a medical provider.
When you got there, you let them know what happened. When the doctor asked you about other symptoms, you mentioned that your neck was feeling tight, but you thought it was to do with the workload you’ve been taking on each day.
You were shocked when they sent you straight to the hospital. Why did they? They thought that you might be developing a very dangerous conditions called tetanus. Tetanus is caused by the Clostridium bacteria, which lives in manure, dust, saliva and soil. Normally, people get tetanus by getting deep lacerations or puncture wounds, like the kind of injury a splinter causes.
The likelihood of the bacteria festering is higher with splinters, too. Why? The splinter blocks blood and fluids from exiting the wound, so it can’t clean itself out.
What are the symptoms of tetanus?
The signs of tetanus include:
- Trouble swallowing
- Stiffness in the abdominal muscles
- Spasms in the jaw muscles, called trismus
- Stiffness in the neck
- Painful body spasms
- High blood pressure
- A quick heart rate
This is a serious disease and one that needs rapid treatment. It is preventable with a tetanus vaccine, which anyone working in construction should receive if possible.