What You Need to Know About Toxic Shock Syndrome (and How to Prevent It)

What You Need to Know About Toxic Shock Syndrome (and How to Prevent It)

If you have ever taken the time to thoroughly read through the back of a tampon box, you’ll find a message that reads, “Warning of toxic shock syndrome.” You may be thinking, “What the heck is toxic shock syndrome and do I need to be concerned for my health?” Before you begin to panic, we have the answers.


What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, toxic shock syndrome is a rare condition caused by deadly toxins resulted from the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. In other words, toxic shock syndrome is a build up of dangerous bacteria, which will have an extremely negative affect on your health.

Because of the clogged bacteria, it’s possible to get the toxic shock syndrome from leaving in a tampon for more than eight hours. Because the condition has been associated with the use of superabsorbent tampons, manufacturers have pulled certain tampons off the market, in which the statistics of women getting toxic shock syndrome has dramatically declined.

Menstruating women are not the only people who can suffer from toxic shock syndrome. Risk factors of the syndrome also include people who have had recent skin infections or surgeries, according to Healthline.


Symptoms and Treatment

The symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include a fever, low blood pressure, headache, confusion, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rash and seizures, according to Healthline. Because these symptoms are common with other sicknesses and health factors, visit your doctor to be sure you have the correct diagnosis.

Toxic shock syndrome should be taken seriously as it is considered a medical emergency. Visit your doctor immediately if you think it is possible you may have toxic shock syndrome. Your doctor will most likely prescribe you antibiotics that will help fight the bacteria. It is possible that you will have to stay under the hospital’s care for a few days.

Other treatments may include the underlying cause of the disease. For example, if the toxic shock syndrome was caused by a bacteria build-up from an over-absorbed tampon, you doctor will need to remove the tampon. If the syndrome was caused by surgical wounds, your doctors may drain any fluids to clear the infection.


How to Prevent It

It is not recommended to wear tampons if you have a history of toxic syndrome, because the disease can recur.

In order to prevent toxic shock syndrome, it is advised to avoid wearing tampons. However, if you prefer wearing tampons, be sure to change your tampon frequently (every four to eight hours) and wear a low-absorbency tampon.

In other cases of toxic shock syndrome, be sure to wash your hands often to remove bacteria. Keep cuts, including surgical wounds, clean by changing the bandages frequently.


This article isn’t meant to scare away tampon users; tampons are great! However, it’s important to be aware of the disease and its causes, so you are able to decrease the chances of you obtaining it in the future.

Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.