Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome female

Last Updated June 3rd, 2019

Background

If you are a woman who uses tampons during menstruation, it is essential for you to be aware of the risks. The main risk associated with tampon use is that of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a potentially life-threatening illness caused by certain bacteria. It is recommended to use tampons with the lowest absorbency level for the amount of flow that you are experiencing. Using super-absorbent ones is proven to have a greater risk of inducing TSS. Also, one must always make sure to replace tampons every 6-8 hours. Never leave a tampon in for longer periods of time.

 

Toxic Shock Syndrome? What’s That?

Toxic shock syndrome bacteriaToxic shock syndrome can happen to anyone of any age although the incidence is particularly high among women who use tampons. Nevertheless, it is a rare condition. We do not as yet understand exactly how tampon use is responsible for triggering TSS. What we do know is that the illness is set off by bacterial toxins released into the blood. Most often, the culprit is a common bacterium known as Staphylococcus aureus. Sometimes, another common bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes may be responsible.

TSS should be treated as a medical emergency. Early signs include fever and vomiting. This may be followed by diarrhea, a skin rash, and mental confusion. If you are experiencing such symptoms, make sure to get help and rush to a hospital immediately. Earlier diagnosis is associated with a more favorable overall outcome.

 

What Causes Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium that is usually found on the surface of human skin. It is also present in the mucosal membranes of areas such as the upper respiratory passages and even the genitals. Although this bacterium has the potential to harm the body and give rise to infections, it is kept in check by the immune system. As long as bacterial growth is controlled and the microbe restricted to the external areas of the body, there is no threat.

However, given the right conditions, this microbe gains access to the body and multiplies. This can happen when there are breaks in the skin or through invasive medical procedures. When the bacterium enters the deeper tissues, it multiplies and produces certain toxic substances. When these toxins enter the bloodstream, they can give rise to toxic shock syndrome.

Toxic shock syndrome & tamponsHence, it is quite possible for anyone with wounds, post-surgical infections or even a weak immunity to potentially develop toxic shock syndrome. TSS is more likely to happen when you use a tampon and leave it in for extended periods of time. One theory holds that the tampon provides the ideal environment for bacteria to flourish in, especially since it is soaked with blood which nourishes the microbes. A superabsorbent tampon contains more blood and is more likely to be left in place for longer periods of time, which is why you need to be all the more vigilant when using one.

Here is a list of potential risk factors for TSS:

  • Any condition that damages the skin and allows bacteria to penetrate it. This includes minor cuts and abrasions and even large, open wounds like burns and severe fractures. Alternatively, you are also at risk if you have a dermatological problem that disrupts the integrity of your skin and causes lesions, peeling or flaking. Examples of such skin conditions include psoriasis and eczema.
  • Having a bacterial skin infection such as cellulitis.
  • Any condition that weakens the immunity. Relevant findings under this category include chronic illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, receiving treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, having an immune deficiency or HIV infection. Women who have recently given birth are also at risk.
  • Use of menstrual devices such as tampons and menstrual sponges.
  • Using contraceptives such as cervical caps and diaphragms.

Admittedly, these risk factors are rather common, suggesting a high incidence of TSS. In actual fact, the incidence of TSS is quite low in the general population. In fact, it affects only one in every 1,00,000 women.

 

What Are Some Quickly Recognisable Signs Of TSS?

Typically, TSS sets in and progresses rapidly unless the patient receives medical attention. It may begin with a fever and nausea. The patient will develop inflammation in the mucous membranes and also complain of muscle pain. Eventually, he or she starts to feel very weak and may become confused or dizzy, or even faint.

Patients suffering from TSS may display some or more of the following signs:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • A headache.
  • Muscle-aches.
  • Reddening of the eyes.
  • A skin rash causing the skin to peel off.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Mental confusion.

 

What Complications Should I Be Aware Of?

The main complication that doctors fear in such cases is that of shock. The patient’s condition becomes critical when his or her blood pressure starts to drop.

Why does this happen? As a result of the toxins in the blood, the immune system goes into overdrive and releases inflammatory chemicals in an attempt to counter the bacteria. These chemicals cause blood vessels to become porous in order to allow immune cells to migrate to the site where they are required. In this case, blood vessels throughout the body are affected and their increased permeability also leads to leakage of fluid from the blood.

As a result, the volume of blood diminishes and blood pressure declines. This condition, known as hypovolemic shock, ends up depriving the body’s tissues and organs of the blood and the oxygen they need in order to continue functioning normally. Unless emergency medical care is made available, the internal organs begin to fail and the body shuts down, finally leading to death.

 

How Is TSS Diagnosed?

Initial symptoms of TSS mimic those of the flu. They are rather vague and it is easy to dismiss them until the patient’s condition becomes worse. The doctor may be able to pin down TSS based on the combination of symptoms in case the patient is menstruating and using tampons. Alternatively, the patient may have a medical history of a wound, skin infection, chronic illness, recent surgery, immune deficiency or extended hospital stay that may suggest risk factors for TSS.

Usually, there is not enough time to conduct laboratory investigations. However, the diagnosis may be confirmed by examining samples of blood, mucosa, or tissues from wounds for the presence of S. aureus or S. pyogenes, the usual culprits.

 

Can Toxic Shock Syndrome Be Treated?

Toxic shock syndrome femaleIt certainly can, provided that it is identified early enough and that the right treatment is started promptly. If you notice a friend or acquaintance displaying symptoms of TSS, they may be incoherent and will need your help to get to a hospital. The first step is to get them to remove the tampon or sponge if any. Once under the care of a medical team, the patient will be treated with antibiotics to counter the bacterial overgrowth. If there is evidence of hypovolemic shock, this will require being treated with fluids. Some patients may even need blood transfusions to restore blood volume to normalcy.

In case it is found that the condition was caused by tampons or contraceptive devices like diaphragms, the patient will be advised to avoid them or to use suitable alternatives.

 

Prevention

If you are a tampon user, make sure to change the tampon every 6-8 hours. It is best to avoid going to bed with a tampon in. If you have been wearing one and suddenly feel a fever coming on or if you feel like vomiting, do not delay and immediately bring this to the attention of a medical professional. This combination of symptoms, combined with the fact that you have been using a tampon, is highly suggestive of TSS. The sooner you can get medical attention, the lesser will be your chances of developing life-threatening complications like septic shock.

 

 

Facts

  • Toxic shock syndrome or TSS affects more women than men, because of use of menstruation-related products such as tampons (90% of all TSS cases).

Facts

  • Surgery, insect bites, injury, and even burns can cause staph/strep bacterial invasion leading to TSS.
  • 1 or 2 out of every 100,000 women acquire this infection. It is a relatively rare infection.

Facts

  • 5% -15% of all TSS cases lead to death.
  • The rashes associated with TSS look like sunburns and are found mostly on the arms.
  • In some cases, the patient has died within hours of being diagnosed with TSS.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you are using tampons during menstruation, it is important to change them every 4-8 hours.
  • Read the instructions well before using contraceptive diaphragm and sponges.
  • Every cut or wound on the skin should be immediately sterilized and kept covered.
  • Use sanitary pads instead of tampons to reduce your risk of getting TSS.
Don'ts
  • Use “super-absorbent” tampons.
  • Scratch chicken pox boils and sores, as the broken skin can lead to a host of secondary bacterial infections.
  • Avoid medical intervention if you suddenly experience vomiting and diarrhea during your menstruation cycles while using tampons/ following a surgery.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Top 6 remedies to treat a razor burn at home Symptoms of razor burn include bumps on the skin, redness, and irritation of the skin. Find easy and…
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral supplement for faster weight loss Did you know that about 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes globally? How is it linked…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
diabetes symptoms in women
FBS Test – Fasting Blood Sugar FBS or fasting blood sugar test is a blood test that is used to determine the level of…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Silicon Dioxide: How can a component of sand be essential to your wellbeing? Silicon is one of the most abundant elements in the nature. Find out how silicon dioxide can prove…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
magnesium test
Magnesium Test The magnesium test is a blood test that is generally prsecribed when an individual starts showing signs of…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Stye : The best natural home remedies to ease the pain Styes developing inside the eyelid tend to be more painful whereas external styes are less painful and ooze…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…
ketoacidosis diabetes
HB1Ac Test HB1Ac test is an important blood test that is used to measure the levels of glycated hemoglobin in…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Eustachian Tube : Functions and top home remedies to prevent its infection Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the three important functions…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
How do neutrophils protect you from fatal bacterial attacks? During an infection, certain enzymes alert the mature neutrophils.  Neutrophils then travel through the bloodstream to the affected…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
cold flu sinus treatment
How to beat the common cold, flu, and sinus infection instantly? Can you guess some of the easiest tricks to treat cold and sinus infections? How are these different…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
Vitamin B12: The unknown repercussions of this nutrient deficiency Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamine; involved in the development of red blood cells in the bone marrow.…
Iron Deficiency: 7 major side-effects and steps to overcome them Iron is involved in many vital functions, starting from oxygen transport to healthy fetal development. But what happens…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
Nipah Virus epidemic
Is shingles contagious? If yes, then how can you prevent this infection? What is shingles? How is different from chicken pox? Do adults get shingles? How contagious is it? Find…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
almonds healthy
9 reasons why almonds should be consumed daily Almonds are filled with nutrients and energy and are used since ancient times.  The bitter almonds are chosen…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
DASH Diet: What to eat in a “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension”? If you or your loved one is suffering from chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), dash towards a DASH…
Latest findings on Kombucha; a teacup full of yeast and bacteria How can a tea consisting of a live culture of bacteria & fungi be healthy? With Kombucha, you…
Colloidal silver benefits
Colloidal silver: An essential dietary supplement or yet another pharmaceutical hoax? Colloidal silver is hailed as an effective home remedy for infections. Many believe it can treat HIV and…
Top Natural Repellents for Mosquitoes with negligible side-effects What are the best ways to keep mosquitos away from you? Try these natural and 100% safe products…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Hot cups for detox? Read all about the ancient technique of cupping Did you know inverted hot cups on your back can squeeze out and eject toxins from your body?…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Helicobacter pylori IGA
Helicobacter Pylori – IgA Test The H.pylori IgA test is a blood test used to identify the level of IgA antigen in the…
folate test
Folate test The Folate test is used to measure and monitor the levels of folic acid in the blood. The…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
lose pregnancy weight
5 most effective ways you can lose those pregnancy pounds! Are you looking for ways to get back into shape? Scared of crash diets? Don't let your post-pregnancy…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
essential amino acids
Amino acids: Building blocks of life for better mood and sex drive! Find out why amino acids are often called as the building blocks of life. And why should you…
CBD oil safe
Cannabidiol benefits: Evaluating the “highs” of CBD Oil The word cannabis paints a picture of addicts. But did you know that CBD oil, extracted from the…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Horny Goat Weed: Can it improve libido in human beings too? This plant got its name as Horny Goat Weed when one of the goats feeding on the plant…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Top 15 fat burning foods you need to start eating from today! Tired of going to gym everyday but seeing no change in your weight? Try these top fat burning…
Sharpen your brain with these top brain-friendly foods! Did you know your diet could decide how razor sharp your memory is? Or that what you eat…
Muscle relaxers: Think twice before popping prescription drugs for muscle pain The market is brimming with OTC muscle relaxers. But these come with a host side-effects. Find out the…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
anti-thyroglobulin antibody
Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody test Anti-thyrogloubin antibody test measures the level of antibodies that attack the thyroid gland cells and are hence indicative…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called Antiphospholipid syndrome linked…
HPV diegene hybrid dna detection
HPV Digene Hybrid DNA Detection test An HPV DNA test is a test used to detect 13 high-risk types of human papillomavirus infections. HPV…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
Serotonin happiness
Serotonin: What you didn’t know about this “feel-good” chemical Serotonin : Did you know that this "feel-good" hormone could well impact your sleep cycle, sex drive, appetite,…