Signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Know how to tell the early warning signs of TSS.

How to Tell if you have TSS

  The Signs and Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome - Know What to Look For Toxic shock syndrome may be a a term you have heard before, but do you know what it is? What causes it? How to avoid it?  


WHAT IS TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME (TSS)?   Toxic shock syndrome is caused by the staphylococcus aureus bacteria. It enters your bloodstream and begins producing toxins in the body. Those toxins then begin to cause illness in the person afflicted.    


WHAT CAUSES TSS?   There can be several causes for toxic shock syndrome; cuts on skin, viral infections, and surgeries. The most common and well known cause, however, is the use of tampons, especially the super absorbent ones, and contraceptive diaphragms.   The exact reasons for why tampons can cause TSS are debatable. Some believe that leaving a tampon in for an prolonged period of time can lead to a ripe environment for bacteria to develop. Others think that the internal walls of the vagina can be scratched or irritated by the tampon and creates an opening for the bacteria to enter the individual's bloodstream.   Manufacturers of tampon products recommend not leaving a tampon in for more than 8 hours. So sleeping with a tampon in is considered safe unless you plan on sleeping for more than 8 hours. If that is the case, it is suggested you switch to a pad instead for that duration.   Many women choose to use an organic cotton tampons to reduce their risk of contracting TSS. Organic and all natural tampons are made from organic cotton or unbleached cotton, and do not contain rayon. Rayon is a synthetic material that produces a toxic chemical called dioxin.   


SYMPTOMS OF TOXIC SHOCK   TSS produces a number of symptoms including sudden fevers, low blood pressure and headaches. Others may suffer from nausea/vomiting, diarrhea and rash. Confusion and seizures may also be present in someone suffering from TSS. Many people compare the symptoms to being similar to the flu.    Symptoms typically come on rather suddenly. This sudden onset can be a telltale warning sign that toxic shock is a possibility. In users of tampons, the symptoms usually present themselves about 5 days after the start of the menstrual cycle.    There are other risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing TSS. HIV+ status, alcohol abuse, and the use of anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) will all raise a person's chances of developing TSS.   TSS is not contagious, and if someone has developed toxic shock in the past due to tampon usage, they should consult with their physician about continuing use.   


TREATMENTS   If someone develops toxic shock, they are typically treated with a round of antibiotics to kill the bacteria and stop the spread of toxins. Many patients require medication to treat the low blood pressure that develops in a large number of these cases. Fluids, sometimes via an IV, are required due to dehydration issues stemming from the vomiting and diarrhea.    If there is a wound involved, it is drained of pus and treated to stave off further infection and promote healing.   If you believe that there is a chance you have developed toxic shock syndrome, you should contact your physician immediately or visit your local emergency room for confirmation and treatment.