Toxic Shock Syndrome

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Per Mayo Clinic, toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening condition of certain types of bacterial infections. Often resulting from staph bacteria but can also be produced by group A streptococcus bacteria.

Who can get it?

Anyone can contract toxic shock syndrome, including women, children and even men.


  • Headaches or confusion
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Sudden high fever
  • Redness of the eyes, mouth, and throat
  • Seizures
  • Sunburn-like rash

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Causes Toxic shock syndrome has been associated primarily with the use of super-absorbent tampons. Bacteria, however, can be developed from bacteria getting through an opening from your skin, including a cut, sore or other wounds. It’s thought that tampon fibers could possibly scratch the vagina, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream.


Toxic Shock Syndrome can progress quite quickly with the following severe complications.
  • Shock
  • Renal failure
  • Death

Risk Factors

Half of the cases of toxic shock syndrome occur in women who are menstruating within 10-45 years of age. What can Toxic Shock Syndrom be associated with?
  • Having had a recent surgery
  • Cuts or burns on your skin
  • Using contraceptive sponges, diaphragms or superabsorbent tampons
  • Having a viral infection


Although there is no test for toxic shock syndrome, blood and urine tests may be needed to test for the presence of a staph or strep infection. Your OB/GYN may need to swab the vagina, cervix, and throat for lab analysis. Toxic shock syndrome can affect multiple organs so a CT scan, lumbar puncture, and chest x-ray may be performed to access the illness severity.


According to, treatment options can include medication or even surgery.
  • Medication used to stabilize blood pressure
  • IV fluids to fight dehydration
  • Gamma globulin injections to suppress inflammation and boost the immune system.
For immediate care, walk-in 24/7 to our GYN Emergent Care Center. Learn more:

Tips in prevention

Manufacturers of tampons sold in the United States no longer use the materials or designs that were associated with toxic shock syndrome.
  • Use low absorbency tampons
  • Change tampons frequently
  • Alternate from tampons to panty liners when your period is light

Things to know about TSS

According to Women’s Health Magazine:
  • Tampon size matters when it comes to your risk Tip. Use the lowest absorbancy and change your tampon often.
  • Tampons aren’t the only TSS offenders. Menstrual cups and diaphragms can also cause TSS. Tip. Use sanitary pads instead.
  • TSS symptoms come on quickly – without warning. Tip. Be aware of the following symptoms: Confusion, diarrhea, general sick feeling, headaches, high fever and chills, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting and more.
  • TSS symptoms might include a rash. Tip. If you have two or more of the following symptoms accompanied by a rash, we highly advise you to go to the GYN Emergent Care Center immediately!
  • TSS really is life-threatening. Tip. No matter how busy you are, always find time to change your tampon. Your life depends on it. Even a couple hours can drastically change your health outcome.
Read how a tiny piece of tampon almost killed a mom. 

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