Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is rare but very serious, and sometimes fatal. This complication is one that is linked to using super-strength tampons as well as to the contraceptive sponge. TSS is usually a result of toxins that are the byproducts of staph germs (staphylococcus aureus bacteria), but are sometimes caused by strep germs (streptococcus bacteria).
Because of the link to tampons and the contraceptive sponge, it is clear that this condition most often strikes women during their childbearing years, though TSS has been known to occur in children, men, and postmenopausal women. This is due to the fact that TSS can also be secondary to surgery complications or wounds.
The development of TSS is sudden and the condition can be fatal. But there are measures you can take to protect yourself from TSS. Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:
*Reddened throat, mouth, and eyes
*Vomiting or diarrhea
*A sudden high fever
*A rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The rash looks like a sunburn and will peel after a week has gone by
*Low blood pressure
If you have any of these symptoms, it's urgent you contact your doctor right away; all the more so if you've got your period, just finished with your period, use tampons, or have a skin or wound infection. Your doctor will want to know how long you've had your symptoms and he'll want a description of those symptoms, too.
Scientists are still looking into the link between the development of TSS and the use of tampons. There are two working theories so far. The first theory holds that when super-absorbent tampons remain inside the vagina at length, they turn into bacterial breeding grounds. The second theory holds that the fibers of tampons abrade the vagina, allowing bacteria and/or toxins to enter the woman's bloodstream.
Once your doctor confirms a diagnosis of TSS, you'll need to be hospitalized and given antibiotic treatment. You will also need treatment for the various symptoms of TSS. During this time, your physicians will try to find the root cause for your infection.
Should your blood pressure drop, you'll be given stabilizing medication as well as fluids to counter the accompanying dehydration. Low blood pressure that comes in tandem with toxins produced by staph or strep bacteria can bring on kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, you'll need dialysis.
Lower your profile for toxic shock syndrome by making sure to change your tampon every 4-8 hours. Use the lowest absorbency tampons you can get away with or at least switch off between using tampons and sanitary pads. If you have a light flow, think about switching to mini-pads, altogether.
People who develop TSS have a high risk for recurrence. Women who get TSS must stop using tampons for good.