Botulism: Review and more

Botulism is a very serious and life-threatening disease that results from the action of a toxin produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Botulism leads to muscle paralysis that usually begins in the face, causing symptoms such as a drooping eyelid and/or difficulty speaking. Paralysis can spread downward, affecting the muscles of the neck, chest, arms, and legs.

 Learn about Medications / Gary Foerster

Symptoms of botulism

The bacteria that cause botulism produce botulinum toxin, a neurotoxin that binds to the small space between the nerve and muscle, preventing the nerve from sending a message to the corresponding muscle. When a nerve cannot send a message for the muscle to move, the muscle becomes paralyzed.

Botulism classically first causes paralysis of the facial muscles. This may result in one or more of the following:

  • Drooping eyelids
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Slurred speech or slurred speech
  • Swallowing problems
  • Dry mouth

Botulism can develop in anyone, including infants and young children. However, instead of the above symptoms, babies with botulism may:

  • Appear “lethargic” and lethargic
  • Cries weakly
  • Being constipated
  • Poorly fed

Because bacteria can produce large amounts of botulinum toxin, it can eventually spread throughout the body, paralyzing a large number of muscles at once.

If you experience or notice signs of botulism, you should seek medical attention immediately. The toxin released by the infectious bacteria that cause botulism can quickly cause dangerous paralysis, after which this condition becomes much more problematic and difficult to recover.

Types and causes of botulism

Botulism is most commonly caused by Clostridium botulinum, but it can also be caused by Clostridium butyricum e Clostridium baratii.

There are five types of syndromes associated with botulism. They all cause similar symptoms associated with muscle paralysis, but their origins are different.

Food botulism

This is the most common type of botulism. Canned foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and fish, can be contaminated with a preformed botulinum toxin.

In general, canned foods prepared at home without the use of safe processing methods are at the greatest risk. But there are also outbreaks of botulism associated with professional and industrial preserves, although these outbreaks are rare and rare.

Infant botulism

Infantile botulism occurs when bacteria spores enter the baby’s intestine, grow, and eventually produce neurotoxin.

Botulism, Intestinal toxicosis in adults

Botulism in intestinal toxemia in adults is very rare and occurs when, as in infants, the spores Clostridium botulinum enter the human intestine and then grow and produce the toxin.

Iatrogenic botulism

Sometimes botulinum toxin (Botox) is deliberately used for cosmetic injections to temporarily prevent the appearance of wrinkle, prevent migraine headaches or relieve muscle stiffness.

Although not common, botulinum toxin injections for medical or cosmetic reasons can cause unwanted paralysis of eye or facial muscle movement, which is usually temporary.

Botulism of wounds

Wound botulism is a very rare botulism syndrome. Infected wounds Clostridium botulinum it is usually associated with injecting drug use, especially injecting heroin with black tar (a sticky, dark type of heroin) into the skin or muscles.

Surgical incisions, abrasions, lacerations, open fractures, or sinusitis from intranasal cocaine use (through the nose) can also increase the risk of this type of infection.


Botulism is not a common condition, but if you experience weakness in your face, eyes, or mouth, your medical team will perform a complete physical exam and exam to determine the cause. Botulism can be considered along with other more likely diagnoses.

Medical History and Medical Examination

During an individual’s evaluation for botulism potential, the physician will look for three criteria based on data from the U.S. national botulism surveillance database:

  • No fever
  • Symptom cranial neuropathy (for example, blurred or double vision or slurred speech)
  • Indication cranial neuropathy (for example, drooping upper eyelid or facial paralysis)

In babies, the doctor will look for the sudden Onset of weak suction, drooping eyelid, lack of activity and constipation.

Several questions may be asked to assess the potential impact of botulism, such as:

  • Has your child been exposed to honey?
  • Can you cook yourself at home?
  • Do you have a history of injury or injecting drug use?
  • Have you been doing Botox injections recently for cosmetic reasons?


Special tests are often required to make a diagnosis of botulism, since the symptoms can mimic several other neurological conditions, such as:

Some of the tests that may be given to establish a proper diagnosis include:

Laboratory test

Several laboratory tests are used to confirm the diagnosis of botulism. These tests test blood, stool, wounds, or food Sources for a toxin or bacteria.

The downside to botulism testing is that it can take several days to get results. That is why, if suspected, treatment should be started before confirming the diagnosis.


Treatment of botulism begins with immediate hospitalization and administration of antitoxin.


Hospitalization and careful observation, usually in the unit intensive care (ICU). they are the basis of treatment for people with botulism. Some patients require intubation with artificial ventilation lung (respiratory system) in symptoms or signs of respiratory failure due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles.


In addition to hospitalization with careful follow-up, patients with botulism will be given an antitoxin medication. Antitoxin works by binding to botulinum toxin and preventing muscle paralysis. An antibiotic, most commonly penicillin, is also given to kill bacteria Clostridium.


Surgical wound treatment, in which the wound is vigorously cleaned to remove infected tissue, in addition to antibiotics and antitoxin, is designed to treat wound botulism.


Because most cases of botulism occur as a result of eating, learning how to properly handle and prepare food is your best option for prevention.

Proper handling and cooking

Bacteria can multiply when canned food is exposed to oxygen through a dent, slit, or small hole in the jar. Therefore, it is better to throw away all damaged bottles.

Also, if you have a can of food that shows signs of bubbling liquid or bad smell, it’s safer to throw it away.

If you practice home canning, be sure to follow the pressure cooker/canning instructions to accurately remove the spores produced Clostridium botulinum. Boiling any homemade canned food for at least 10 minutes is also important, since botulin toxin is very unstable to heat.

Avoiding honey in babies

Avoid giving honey to children under the age of one to help prevent childhood botulism. Your digestive system is not developed enough to destroy bacteria before they can cause harmful effects.

Practice Proper Wound Care

Be sure to receive surgical treatment for all wounds. Likewise, avoid injecting drug use to protect yourself from associated skin damage.

A Few Words From Get Meds Info

With the discovery of botulinum antitoxin and advances in medical education and monitoring of the condition, fewer than five in 100 people suffering from botulism die. However, botulism remains a very serious disease that requires immediate treatment.

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