Doctors Are Begging Women To Learn The Dangerous Signs Of TSS

February 11, 2017

We all get little cuts and scrapes on our skin from time to time. And usually, they’re not a big deal, right?

Wrong. Bacteria can seep through open wounds and incisions on the surface of the skin, and travel through the body to penetrate its most vital organs.

In an exclusive look below, we’ll give you an eye-opening overview of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare but incredibly deadly condition that is caused by certain bacterial infections.

According to the National Institutes of Health, TSS is fatal in up to 50 percent of all cases.

And though men, women, and children of all ages can contract TSS, it is most closely associated and observed in menstruating women who use tampons.

Below, we detail a few basic ways to ensure proper tampon use to prevent TSS. Many of these tips may seem pretty obvious, but it’s still absolutely crucial to keep in them in mind.

Scroll further to learn how you can take steps for prevention, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

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Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is an extremely severe medical condition caused by certain bacterial infections, according to Healthline.

Though men, women, and children of all ages are known to suffer from the condition, it is most typically associated with menstruating women who use tampons.

According to the Mayo Clinic, an infection occurs when bacteria enters your body through a cut, sore, wound, or other opening in the skin. To date, experts are still unsure why tampons specifically can lead to the condition, although tampons left in place for long periods of time can definitely attract bacteria.

Doctors also believe that tampon fibers scratch the inside of the vagina, making an opening for bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

In many cases, TSS is also caused by toxins produced by staph infections.

What Are Its Symptoms?

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Everyone can experience different symptoms of TSS, which typically appear very quickly. Some key symptoms include:

  • A sudden high fever
  • A rash on your palms and soles that looks like sunburn
  • Redness of the eyes, mouth, and throat
  • Headaches and muscle aches
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Seizures

Many of theses symptoms can easily be mistaken for symptoms of the flu or another medical condition.

But it you experience any of the above symptoms after using a tampon, or after undergoing surgery, speak with your physician immediately.

How Is It Treated?

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Doctors treat toxic shock syndrome in a variety of ways. In most cases, though, patients will be hospitalized, and some even stay in the ICU for days.

According to Healthline, patients will likely be prescribed an IV antibiotic to help them fight the infection. If a tampon triggered the toxic shock, it will have to be removed from the body.

If a wound triggered the shock, blood or pus from the wound will have to be drained to clear up the infection.

Doctors will also give patients medication to stabilize their blood pressure, and give them anti-inflammatory injections to stabilize the immune system.

How Do The Effects Of TSS Spread?

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In the severest cases, patients will usually first go into shock.

Next, the kidneys will fail — meaning that they won’t properly filter waste products from the blood.

If left untreated, TSS can also lead to liver and heart failure.

Perhaps most disheartening of all, toxic shock syndrome is reportedly deadly in up to 50 percent of all cases, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Tips For Prevention
1. Use The Right Tampons

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For women, the first step toward prevention is to know the correct type of tampon they should use.

Tampax suggests researching the right-size tampon for your flow, and Healthline recommends reading the tampon labels carefully to choose the one with the lowest absorbency.

If your tampon is fully saturated when removed, or if you have to use extra force to insert it, it’s a sign that you should switch products.

2. Change Your Tampon Every 4 To 8 Hours

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Ladies, remember to change your tampons as frequently as possible — at least once every four to eight hours.

According to WebMD, you should also remember to remove the last tampon when your period has finished.

3. Alternate Between Day And Night

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Alternate between tampons and pads when you are on your period. If you leave it in any longer than that, bacteria will accumulate rapidly.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends using mini pads when your flow is light, or when your period is almost over.

4. Remove Diaphragms And Sponges

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Diaphragms and contraceptive sponges can also pose risks.

Like tampons, these birth control devices are inserted into the body, and can trap up fluids and unwanted bacteria.

Make sure you use them correctly, as directed by your doctor. Be sure to change them out frequently, and to thoroughly clean before each use.

Remove your diaphragm, sponge, or cervical cap whenever it’s not needed, suggests WebMD.

5. Keep Wounds Clean

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Bacteria will enter through cuts, wounds, or surgical incisions that you may have, wherever they may be on the skin.

Be sure to keep any wounds clean, and to change your dressing often, as directed by your physician.

6. Always Wash Your Hands

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Lastly, always remember to thoroughly wash your hands both before and after you change your pad, or insert a tampon.

Bacteria occurs when feminine products are inserted inside the body for too long, but it definitely also travels through contact with the hands.