What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare and life-threatening medical health condition. In TSS, certain bacteria (Staphylococcus. aureus, or group A Streptococcus) grow and spread excessively, leading to the immune system’s fight against these bacteria from all corners of the body. The attack from bacteria in all body parts brings about the “toxic shock” (basically meaning shock from toxins). TSS was first described in children in 1978 . Although it can affect anyone, including men, women, and children of all ages, toxic shock syndrome mainly affects women who use tampons for a relatively longer duration. It also affects women who use tampons more frequently. It also affects women who use devices such as menstrual cups, diaphragms, and contraceptive sponges . Toxic shock can last between a week and a couple of months if treated effectively.
Complications and Side Effects of Toxic Shock SyndromeIf left untreated for 7─10 days after its sudden appearance, bacteria-caused acute-onset toxic shock syndrome (TSS) can result in:
- Heart issues.
- Renal failure.
- Cardiac arrest.
- Acute seizures.
- Liver problems.
- Bladder problems.
- Kidney dysfunction.
- Restricted blood flow.
- Coagulation disorders.
- Infections of the spine.
- Emotional changes and memory loss.
- ARDS (adult respiratory distress syndrome).
- Low platelet and red blood cells (RBCs) count.
- Uncontrolled bleeding (in menopausal women).
- Traumatic shock sometimes leads to death.
Toxic Shock Syndrome Risk FactorsCertain risk factors may lead to sudden toxic shock syndrome in the immune system. A few of the risk factors are:
- A History of wounds from surgery.
- Use a contraceptive sponge.
- Have a deep skin health condition.
- Have had an abortion.
- Undergoing menopause.
- A young or middle-aged woman.
- Recently had burns on the skin.
- Use a tampon that highly absorbs fluid.
- History of skin infection.
- History of viral infections, such as chickenpox or flu.
Toxic Shock Syndrome DiagnosisYou can easily notice if you have toxic shock syndrome or not, just by physical appearance. However, to be entirely sure, the doctor may require the following tests to confirm the existence of TSS: Blood samples, via:
- Complete blood count (CBC) test.
- Platelet count.
- Prolonged prothrombin and activated partial thromboplastin times are performed to evaluate blood clotting ability .
- Blood culture to know the cause of TSS.
- Lumbar puncture
Toxic Shock Syndrome TreatmentThe specialists in charge of treating toxic shock syndrome include:
- Gynecologists and Urologists.
- Intravenous (IV) drip.
- Blood bank deposits.
- Kidney dialysis.
- Gamma globulin injections.
- Hyperbaric oxygen is used in a few patients to treat skin wounds.
- Aqueous penicillin G.
- The addition of clindamycin and gentamycin reduces toxin production.
Toxic Shock Syndrome PreventionYou can prevent toxic shock syndrome via:
- Clean hygiene.
- Change your tampon every 5 hours and unwrap it only when you want to use it immediately.
- Do not use highly absorbing tampons.
- Do not take turns switching it with any other menstrual material.
- Consider using sanitary pads and menstrual cups instead.
Toxic Shock Syndrome PrognosisThe survival rate of untreated toxic shock syndrome is low (about 30% or less). Generally, the mortality rate of TSS varies between 20% and 70%. Dying from staphylococci-caused TSS is estimated to have a 5%─15% chance, while dying from streptococci-cause TSS can go as high as having a chance of 70%. If treated early and adequately, patients of TSS can undergo full recovery with a minimum 99% success rate. But if not, death can ensue.
The signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome are many. The bacteria-caused toxic shock syndrome signs often come all at once, eventually disappearing after treatment.
These indications and signs of toxic shock syndrome include:
- Sudden seizures.
- Unexplainable confusion.
- Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea.
- Muscle dystrophy and aching.
- Sudden rise in body temperature.
- Redness of the eyes, tongue, lips, and throat.
- Steep lowering in blood pressure (hypotension).
- Rapid peeling of the palms and feet soles, looking like scales.
- Sunburn-like rashes all over the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.
The rashes are characterized by flatness, turning white if pressed. They may be hard to notice in people with dark skins.
Toxic shock syndrome predominantly affects young and middle-aged females especially those between 16 to 40 years. Females get toxic shock syndrome from pads or tampons usage.
Toxic shock syndrome is caused by strains of harmful bacteria that have been allowed to enter the human body.
The causes of toxic shock syndrome involve three notable bacteria types, which are:
- Staphylococcus aureus (causing staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome).
- Streptococcus pyogenes (causing streptococcal toxic shock syndrome).
- Clostridium sordelli.
- Receptacle a child get toxic shock syndrome?
Anybody can have toxic shock syndrome, including babies, boys, girls, women, and men. However, menstrual women are the most affected group, carrying approximately 50% of TSS patients. The syndrome is rarely found in children.
- Why do tampons cause TSS but not menstrual cups?
Menstrual cups collect blood rather than absorb it. Hence, using these cups while menstruating is safer to prevent physical contact between bacteria and the vagina. It would be best if you didn’t use tampons.
- Is it better to wear a pad or a tampon?
The rate of getting toxic shock syndrome from tampons is higher than getting toxic shock syndrome from pads. Therefore, it is better to use a sanitary pad because it proves safer than tampons.
Pads reduce the spread of bacteria into your body. In addition, they do not carry risks of vaginal infection as they stick to your underwear, whereas tampons are inserted into the vagina.
- What per cent of people get toxic shock syndrome?
It is estimated that around 3─5 people out of 100,000 get affected by TSS in the United States a year. National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) estimates that tampon-related TSS occurs in 1 out of 100,000 menstruating women a year. In world statistics, toxic shock syndrome (TSS) affects only less than 1% of the total world population.
- Can toxic shock syndrome go away by itself?
TSS (toxic shock syndrome) cannot go away on its own. It needs immediate treatment to secure a minimal 99% success rate. If left untreated (more than 14 days after onset), TSS can be fatal.
- Todd J, Fishaut M, Kapral F, Welch T. Toxic-shock syndrome associated with phage-group-I Staphylococci. Lancet. 1978 Nov 25. 2 (8100):1116-8.