Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a group of symptoms throughout the body. This illness can progress rapidly. It can lead to a failure of multiple body systems. Toxic shock syndrome can be fatal.
There are two types of TSS:
TSS is caused by toxins released from certain bacteria. Bacteria most often associated with TSS include:
Bacteria infects the body through cuts or sores. The bacteria can create toxins as it grows. These toxins are harmful to many of your body's systems. The damage to your body is what causes the range of symptoms.
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TSS was originally associated with tampon use. It was most common in women who used a particular type of highly absorbent tampons. As a result, these tampons were removed from the market. The number of TSS infections due to tampons has since significantly decreased.
Factors that increase your risk of TSS include:
A person with TSS often appears very ill. Symptoms usually come on suddenly. Fever, chills, and body aches may start up to four days before other symptoms develop such as:
The initial symptoms may improve, as the disease progresses. Symptoms of severe TSS include:
The infection can lead to severe complications such as:
The doctor will do a physical and pelvic exam. The diagnosis is most often based on the fever, the rash, low blood pressure, and problems affecting multiple body systems.
Tissue from the suspected wound will be tested for bacteria. However, these tests may be negative even if you have TSS.
Other blood and urine tests may be done to rule out other medical conditions.
Treatment aims to support your life and reverse the process of organ deterioration. You may need to be monitored in the intensive care unit.
The wound will be reopened. Water will be poured over the wound to clean the area. Any packing from a previous procedure will be removed.
If a birth control device is in the vagina, the doctor takes it out. If the TSS is menstrual type, the vagina may be flushed out with saline.
To support your body while you heal:
You can decrease your risk of menstrual associated TSS with the following steps:
Most other forms of the disease are not currently preventable.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
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Tampons and Asbestos, Dioxin and Toxic Shock Syndrome. United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/PatientAlerts/ucm070003.htm . Accessed November 13, 2012.
Toxic shock syndrome. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh website. Available at: http://www.chp.edu/CHP/P02550 . Accessed November 13, 2012.
Toxic shock syndrome. Nemours KidsHealth website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/toxic_shock.html . Updated May 21, 2009. Accessed November 13, 2012.
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Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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