Toxic Shock Syndrome Causes: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Toxic shock syndrome is a rather rare, life threatening complication of some bacterial infections. Normally, toxic shock syndrome – TSS occurs due to the toxins that are released by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria; on the other hand, toxins released by group A streptococcus bacteria may also set off the condition.

The toxic shock syndrome has been linked chiefly to the use of super absorbent tampons.

Conversely, since manufacturers have pulled the plug on certain types of tampons, the prevalence of toxic shock syndrome in menstruating women has reduced significantly.

Toxic shock syndrome is known to afflict men, postmenopausal women and children too. Risk factors for developing TSS include skin injury and surgery.

Signs And Symptoms Of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome manifests as:

  • Body pain
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • A sudden high fever
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures and delirium
  • A rash on the palms and soles
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat

Toxic shock syndrome tends to progress very quickly. Complications include:

  • Shock
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

What Causes Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome is caused by bacteria, most commonly Staphylococcus aureus. It may also be caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. Half the cases of toxic shock syndrome occur in menstruating women; the rest occur in men, menopausal women and children.

Toxic shock syndrome has been linked to:

  • A recent surgery.
  • Having cuts or burns.
  • Having some sort of viral infection.
  • Using contraceptive diaphragms, sponges, or super absorbent tampons.

Treatment For Toxic Shock Syndrome

There is no one investigation to diagnose toxic shock syndrome. Blood and urine samples are required to investigate for the existence of a staphylococcus or streptococcus infection. The cervix and throat will be swabbed for laboratory examination.

Your doctor will order investigations and tests, such as a CT scan, chest X-ray, etc. to evaluate the level of illness. When diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome, you are likely to be hospitalized. In the hospital:

  • You will be administered antibiotics to contain the infection.
  • You will be given drugs to stabilize the B.P. and fluids administered to treat dehydration.
  • Supportive care will be provided to treat the other signs and symptoms.
  • In case of renal failure, you will need dialysis.

Surgical intervention may be required in order to get rid of the non living tissue from the site of the infection or to drain the infection. Confer with your health care provider and understand what the most optimal treatment regimen is for you.

How To Prevent Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Now, manufacturers of tampons no longer use the materials or designs that have been linked to the toxic shock syndrome. What’s more, the Food and Drug Administration requires the manufacturers to use standard measurement and labeling for absorbency, and to print all the guidelines on the boxes.

In case you make use of tampons, ensure that you read the labels very carefully and use the lowest absorbency one. Change your tampons often, at least every 3 to 5 hours. Use tampons and sanitary napkins alternately.

Toxic shock syndrome is known to reappear. In case you have had an instance of toxic shock syndrome or a prior serious staphylococcus or streptococcus infection, do not use tampons at all.