– Toxic shock syndrome: what is it?
– Causes of toxic shock syndrome
– Toxic shock syndrome: what are the symptoms?
– Treatments for toxic shock syndrome
– Precautions to take to avoid TSS
Behind the packets of tampons, there is a small warning mentioning the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). This somewhat barbaric acronym contains an actual notice about the use of tampons and the precautions to take.
Let’s have a closer look below.
Toxic shock syndrome: what is it?
Toxic shock syndrome is a bacterial infection.
It is related to a form of staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium present in the vagina of some women, which will produce toxins dangerous for the body.
TSS is a sporadic but potentially life-threatening syndrome that can lead to sepsis (the most severe form of infection).
For reasons that are not yet fully understood, prolonged use of tampons at the time of menstruation can lead to TSS.
Causes of Toxic Shock Syndrome
Because TSS is extremely rare, it is difficult to determine its causes.
The two main risk factors for the occurrence of TSS are
– the prolonged duration of a sanitary tampon in the vagina;
– its power of absorption.
Indeed, this syndrome, which appeared in the 1980s, began with the introduction of ultra-absorbent tampons. As a result, women needed to change their pads less often and keep them in place for more extended periods.
The release of toxins has been shown to depend on the length of time the tampon is used internally.
Good to know: a tampon alone is not enough to release the toxin responsible for TSS; you must already be a carrier of the bacteria. However, tampons, made of synthetic fibers, can promote its development and lead to TSS.
Toxic shock syndrome: what are the symptoms?
Symptoms can be the same as gastroenteritis, such as high fever, vomiting, and dizziness.
TSS leads to a microbial outbreak. If it reaches the stage of sepsis, the warning signs are:
- Accelerated breathing (more than 22 cycles per minute);
- Abnormally low blood pressure;
- Altered consciousness (incoherent speech, loss of sense of orientation in time or space, hallucinations, loss of recognition of loved ones, drowsiness or agitation).
If a person develops it, the disease progresses quickly and requires emergency hospitalization to receive antibiotic treatment.
Good to know: the occurrence of TSS (the bacteria that causes TSS) has decreased due to improvements in the manufacturing of tampons, which are now made mainly of cotton fiber.
Treatments for Toxic Shock Syndrome
Treatment of TSS may include:
– administration of massive antibiotic therapy;
– Administration of intravenous fluids to treat shock and prevent organ damage;
– dialysis may be required in people who develop kidney failure;
– Administration of blood products (transfusion).
Precautions to avoid TSS
Faced with the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, it is, of course, not appropriate to stop using this form of hygiene protection. However, it is essential to know what precautions to take to minimize the risk of germs on your tampon:
– change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours (even during the night);
– use regular or low-absorbency tampons, even if you have to change them more often (super-absorbent tampons can encourage the development of bacteria and therefore infections);
– Use sanitary napkins or a menstrual cup, whichever is more convenient for you;
– Wash your hands well before putting on or removing a tampon;
– Remove the tampon when there is less flow;
– Do not use tampons outside of the menstrual period (for white discharge, for example) but instead use panty liners.