toxic shock syndrome

What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

As a woman who’s hit puberty, you’ve likely heard of Toxic Shock Syndrome. You may have read up and researched it in detail. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, but potentially fatal condition caused by the release of toxins found in an overgrowth of bacterias like Staphylococcus aureus, clostridium sordelli or streptococcus pyogenes. These bacterias occur naturally in a lot of people’s bodies. So how common is it and who’s at risk from this deadly infection?

It’s hard to say. The problem with TSS it’s not fully understood, and when something is not fully understood it’s hard to prevent. What we do know is it occurs in women who are menstruating and those who use super-absorbant tampons seem to be at a higher risk. But there have also been reported cases of TSS in women who use menstrual sponges, diaphragms, and cervical caps. 

Toxic Shock Syndrom can also occasionally develop as a complication after surgery or childbirth. In an even more unlikely circumstance, it can happen to men and women who have been exposed to staph bacteria while recovering from surgery, a burn, an open wound, or the use of a prosthetic device. 

Toxic shock syndrome was first discovered in 1978 when a group of children became ill with it. The disease started making more headlines in the late 1970s and early 1980s after several young women passed away using a brand of super-absorbent tampons that were later removed from the marketplace. 

Could You Be At Risk Of Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Firstly, it’s very important to point out that Toxic Shock Syndrome is incredibly rare. Although, one in three people has the bacteria which can be found on the skin, in the nose or the armpit, groin or vagina of the body. Most of these people live without it causing any concerns or health problems. For the bacteria to then release in the bloodstream and cause symptoms of shock is very unlikely. But if it does it can damage organs and body tissue, which can cause death if left untreated.

What Symptoms Of Toxic Shock Syndrome Should You Look For?

Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome normally come up very suddenly. They can also vary depending on the type of bacteria that is producing the toxins. If you feel any of the below symptoms then get yourself straight to the hospital, especially if you are menstruating and using tampons. 

If TSS is detected early then it can be treated using antibiotics and other means by providing support to the other functions of the body that have been affected. Treatment is normally successful if TSS is detected early on. You can call health direct on 1800 022 222 for further advice on this. 

What Are The Symptoms Of TSS)

Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome may vary depending on the type of bacteria that are producing the toxins. They may include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • High fever and chills that come out of nowhere
  • Diarrhea that is watery
  • A rash similar to a bad sunburn or red dots on the skin
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headedness or faint.
  • Low blood pressure
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Peeling of the skin on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands.

Is Toxic Shock Syndrome Preventable?

Ideally, yes. In Australia manufacturers of tampons no longer use any material or designs previously associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome. 

If you use tampons, read the labels and use the lowest absorbency tampon you can. Change tampons frequently, at least every four to eight hours. Alternate using tampons and sanitary napkins, you can also prevent it by;

  •  Always change your tampons regularly (at least once every four hours)
  • Avoid using super-absorbent tampons at all times. 
  • Do not unwrap a tampon until you’re ready to use it. 
  • On that note, do not handle the tampon more than you absolutely need to.
  • Always wash your hands before and after inserting the tampon. As thoroughly as possible.
  • Be gentle during the insert and removal of a tampon.
  • Avoid applicator tampons, as the applicator may scrape the vaginal walls.
  • Use pads instead of tampons overnight.
  • Maintain personal hygiene during your period.
  • Do not wear tampons when you do not have your period.
  • Consider using pads or panty liners during the last day or so of your period when your flow is light.
  • Use a lubricating jelly when inserting tampons in the last day or so of your period when your flow is light.

Another option is to avoid tampons all together, especially if you have a light flow. Why not try our leak-free period underwear instead? For peace of mind during your monthly visit, our leak-proof styles don’t have the absorbent layer, so they don’t have that uncomfortable bulky feel. 

WhatThe leak-proof layer extends fully from front to rear, so that you have protection for both day and night wear. If you sleep on your back or your front, the extended coverage will allow you to sleep with greater comfort, and perhaps without uncomfortable pads. Get in touch with us to find out more.

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