What is a Toxic Shock Syndrome?

What is a Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Some type of bacterial infections leads a person to a complication known as toxic shock syndrome. It is a rare and a life-threatening disease. One gets a toxic shock syndrome when the Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria or group A Streptococcus (strep) bacteria release toxins in a body.

Usage of superabsorbent tampons increases the risk of getting toxic shock syndrome. However, now the manufacturers have removed these type of tampons from the market. In mensurating women, a sharp decline is being observed in the rate of incidents associated with toxic shock syndrome.

Toxic shock syndrome can target anyone, a child, an elderly or a post-menopausal woman. Skin wounds and surgery are the two factors which further increase the chances of one getting toxic shock syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of a Toxic Shock Syndrome?

cut on finger• Confusion
• Headaches
• Low blood pressure – hypotension
• Muscle aches
• A sudden increase in body temperature
• Vomiting
• Seizures
• Diarrhea
• A rash similar to a sunburn mainly on the palms and soles
• Mouth, eyes and throat redness

RELATED: Symptoms Of Toxic Shock Syndrome and How to Prevent It?

When Should You Consult a doctor?

Immediately contact your doctor if you are facing the above-mentioned signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome. It is very important to contact your doctor if you have made use of tampons a few days back or going through any skin or wound infection.

What are the Causes of a Toxic Shock syndrome?

In some of the cases, a person gets an infection when the bacteria enters the body through the opening of the skin, either by a cut, a sore, or any other wound. However, the experts are still not able to find out the reason that why the usage of tampons is being such a serious cause of this condition.

According to some people, usage of a single tampon for a longer period of time attracts the bacteria. However, on the other hand, some people think that the friction being produced between tampon fibers and vagina creates an opening for the bacteria to invade the body making easy for the woman to have a toxic shock syndrome.

What are the Risk Factors of a Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome can target anyone. Half of the cases of toxic shock syndrome occurring due to the Staphylococci bacteria are reported in the mensurating women, and the rest of the cases are reported in either the older women, children or men. Toxic shock syndrome associated with Streptococci bacteria can target people of all ages.

Following are the risk factors of a toxic shock syndrome:

• Recently had a surgery
• Going through a viral infection such as flu or chickenpox
• Recently burned or had a cut on the skin
• Making use of diaphragms, super absorbent tampons and contraceptive sponges

What is Toxic Shock-like Syndrome?

Somehow a similar but little different condition can develop from the toxins released by the same type of bacterium; group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacterium. This condition is usually referred as streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. It is also commonly known as a toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS).

Both the symptoms and treatment of toxic shock-like syndrome is similar to toxic shock syndrome. However, the condition of a toxic shock-like syndrome is not caused by the use of tampons.

People who are at a greater risk of getting a GAS infection have also increased the number of chances of developing a toxic shock-like syndrome. Some of the risk factors can further increase your chances of getting TSLS, including:

• Recently had a surgery
• Diabetes
• Chickenpox
• Misuse of alcohol

What are the Complications of a Toxic Shock syndrome?

vomitingAs mentioned above toxic shock syndrome is a rare and a life-threatening medical issue. In some of the cases, toxic shock syndrome can badly affect the vital organs of a body. If the condition is left untreated, it may lead you to many complications, like:

• Heart failure
• Liver failure
• In the state of shock or slow blood regulation throughout the body
• Kidney failure

A person going through a heart failure will face:

• Coughing
• Heart palpitations
• Weakness
• Lack of appetite
• Chest pain
• Fatigue
• Wheezing
• Weakness
• hard to focus on things
• Irregular breathing

RELATED: Signs You Have a Staph Infection

The major signs and symptoms of a liver failure are:

• Hard to focus on things
• Sleepiness
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Upper abdominal pain
• Confusion
• Yellowing of sclera and skin or jaundice

Following are the signs of a kidney failure:

• High blood pressure
• Fatigue
• Muscle cramps
• Difficulty in excretion
• Weakness
• Chest pain
• Feet and ankles getting swelled
• Continous itching
• Hiccups
• Nausea
• Unable to have a sound sleep
• Vomiting
• Difficulty in breathing

How to Diagnose a Toxic Shock syndrome?

bacteriaFor the diagnosis of toxic shock syndrome, the doctor may observe your symptoms as well as conduct a physical examination. In addition to this, the doctor may also perform your blood and urine test, it will help him to find out if there is any streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria present in your body.

The blood test will also be performed to trace your kidney and liver function. Group of cells of vagina, cervix or throat also might be needed. All of these samples will help the doctor to analyze carefully and detect the presence of bacteria in the body causing toxic shock syndrome.

How to Prevent a Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Manufacturers in the United States of America have stopped using the materials and designs in tampons that can increase the risk of getting toxic shock syndrome. In addition to this, the food and drug administration has made mandatory for the manufacturers to make use of standard measurements, print the instructions on packets as well as to mention the label for absorbency.

If you are a menstruating woman, make sure that you read the label and choose a lower absorbancy packet. It is preferable if one changes their tampon at every four to eight hours. Another preventive measure you can opt is to use tampons and sanitary napkins on an alternate basis and mini pads when there is a light flow.


Toxic shock syndrome can repeat. People who have undergone this medical condition or a serious step or strep infection should immediately quit using tampons. Immediately call your doctor if you are facing any of the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome.

REMEMBER: Treatment at the proper time can save your life and vital organs from any further damage.

Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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