Facts About Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome or TSS is a disease caused by the Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium so common that it is said that one in every three people might be carrying it on the skin in the regions like armpit, groin, vagina or even nose. A certain strain of Streptococcus bacteria can also cause the syndrome.

The nature of the disease is like a shock as the patient gets severely ill very quickly and in some cases the disease can be fatal. However, the occurrence of this syndrome is very rare as only certain strains of the bacteria can release toxins in the body resulting in outbreak of the syndrome.

Symptoms Of Toxic Shock Syndrome

The symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome include signs like sudden high fever together with fall in blood pressure, diarrhea, vomiting, appearance of rashes on the palms and soles which resemble sunburn, confusion, redness of the eyes along with the mouth and throat, headache, muscle aches and even seizures.

If these signs are show by the patient the doctor should be consulted immediately and the patient in most cases needs hospitalization. This is especially important for women who are menstruating or have just gone over the menstruation cycle and was using tampons or even if the patient had any skin infection or wound.

Causes Of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Commonly the occurrence of Toxic Shock Syndrome has been associated with using the super absorbent varieties of tampons, a diaphragm or contraceptive sponge or in cases where there has been and occurrence of staphylococci or streptococci infection. In the last case the chances of occurrence of TSS increases if there has been a wound or healing surgical incision.

Though tampon is generally shown as a major cause of Toxic Shock Syndrome, there is no mechanism known to cause this apart from the fact that since super absorbent tampons are used for a prolonged period, it can become a breeding ground of various types of bacteria.

Other suggestions include that the super absorbent fibers scratch the delicate vaginal surface through which bacteria or toxins secreted by them may get into the bloodstream to cause the ailment.

However, there is no reason for those not menstruating to be complacent as almost half of the occurrences of TSS are seen among the non-menstruating population.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Generally the symptoms mentioned above are noted and tests of the blood and urine are done to ascertain the presence of staph or strep infection. In some cases throat, cervical and vaginal swabs may be taken for analysis in the laboratory.

Generally the patient needs hospitalization.Antibiotics are administered after the source has been identified.Since other problems like high fever and fall in blood pressure accompany the infection, medications for control of these are also administered.

Sometimes in the serious cases the toxins generated by the bacteria may also cause failure of the kidney and in such cases dialysis is carried out.


Personal hygiene can be said to be an important factor in TSS and it is especially important for menstruating women. They are advised to change the tampons frequently; use the least absorbent variety as far as possible; use it alternately with sanitary napkins and not to use tampons when the flow is minimal.

Those who have had about of TSS should stop using tampons altogether because Toxic Shock Syndrome can recur in persons who have got it once.