Botulism is a bacterial infection caused by Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium releases a toxic chemical into the body of an affected person. It can be quite dangerous, especially in the elderly and children. It is not a contagious infection. Botulism infection can be fatal if left untreated. Even with proper treatment care, the risk of botulism is never completely removed.
There are three sub-categories of botulism infections. One type is infant botulism most common in children aged a year or less. It occurs when an infant inhales spores of the bacterium. The spores travel to the gut and start making toxins. Infant botulism is usually caused by contaminated corn syrup or honey products.
Among adults, food-borne botulism can be caused by consuming contaminated food. It can occur when people consume some canned foods that may have botulism spores. The spores, once ingested, begin producing toxins in the body, causing botulism.
Another type of botulism is wound botulism. It occurs when a person has a scrape or cut that allows botulism bacteria to invade the body bypassing protective skin tissues. The person can use a few units of Botox into specific areas around the nose to change the look. The units of the products should be used carefully through the person.
The cooking process kills the botulism spores. Food-borne botulism is mostly caused by undercooked meats or other foods. Kids under one year of age should not be given honey, because they are vulnerable to the botulism spores which may be in the honey.
The clostridium botulinum bacteria produce a toxin affecting the nervous systems. The toxin blocks acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, from being released when needed. The nerves malfunction due to lack of acetylcholine. The person may get paralyzed, because the muscles are not getting contraction signals properly.
Botulism can cause respiratory failure, leading to deaths. The muscles needed to breath are affected by the toxin, which causes an infected person to stop the breathing.
The symptoms of a botulism infection usually start one or two days after the person is infected. The botulism toxin causes a person to experience blurry vision, double vision, slurred speech, and drooping eyelids. The mouth may become very dry, and swallowing becomes more difficult. There may also be occasional diarrhea and vomiting.
The infection causes the patient to experience weakness in legs and arms. This happens while the person is fully conscious.
Affected infants will experience all these symptoms. In small children, the toxin prevents flexing the muscles. They will then lose the ability to hold up their head. Infants commonly do not feed further and constipation may occur.
Medical attention needs to be sought for immediately on the occurrence of symptoms of botulism. Recovery can be made with proper treatment. If treatment is not provided timely, death may occur.
The infected person is first stabilized and put on respiratory support systems. If the source of the infection was only consumed a few hours ago, vomiting is induced to get rid of the bacteria as much as possible.
The botulism toxin can be treated using anti-toxins. But botulism infections are not that common so hospitals may not stock the anti-toxins. The anti-toxin can neutralize the botulism toxin.
If you suspect you are having a botulism infection, seek a doctor immediately. In many cases, the symptoms may be caused by something other than botulism. So seeking proper medical consultation is a must.