Toxic Shock Syndrome
What is it?
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare bacterial disease that can
be a result of using tampons. There was an outbreak of TSS
during the early 1980's with some women who were using super
absorbent tampons. The brand of tampons that caused this
problem was taken off the market. However, it is still very important
to be aware of the symptoms.
The bacteria that causes TSS is usually already present in the body, but the fibers of the tampon allow the bacteria to breed more rapidly by getting through the walls of the vagina more easily. A toxin released by the bacteria can cause the following symptoms:
- sudden high fever
- vomiting or diarrhea
- dizziness, weakness, or fainting
- a sunburn-like rash, especially on the palms and soles
There can also be a sudden drop in blood pressure, kidney
damage, and shock. Less than three cases have been fatal, but it
is still important to know the symptoms. TSS does respond to
antibiotics, though women with severe TSS may have to be
hospitalized to stabilize blood pressure.
In order to protect against TSS, the following can be done:
- Change tampons frequently (every 4-8 hours). You may wear a tampon overnight for up to 8 hours.
- Avoid tampons that are more absorbent than needed. The lower the absorbency, the lower the risk.
- Alternate tampons with sanitary napkins
- Try using the new cotton tampons that have lower risk than rayon tampons