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Toxic Shock Syndrome Awareness
Life&Style's Bethany Ball informs about the symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and how it can be prevented
Have you ever forgotten something? Car keys? A packed lunch? To take a tampon out?
If you leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours, you are putting yourself at risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). According to BBC advice, there are roughly 40 cases of TSS per year in the UK, and 2 - 3 of those cases result in death. So yes, it is rare, but it is also extremely deadly. Either the Staphylococcus or the Streptococcus bacteria, causes TSS by releasing harmful toxins in our bodies. These bacteria usually live harmlessly on our skin, but can enter the blood stream if exposed to deeper parts of our body.
“childbirth, nosebleeds and open wounds can result in TSS, meaning it is not a female only infection: 25% of cases are men
According to Dr Sherry Ross, about 50% of the cases of TSS occur in menstruating women who use super-absorbent tampons. You are also more at risk if you leave your tampon in longer than recommended and if you use female barrier contraceptives. Additionally, childbirth, nosebleeds and open wounds can result in TSS, meaning it is not a female only infection: 25% of cases are men.
The symptoms of TSS include flu like symptoms, high temperature, diarrhoea, sickness, a sunburn like rash and confusion, to name a few. If you feel that you might have TSS it is extremely important that you seek medical attention before it becomes worse. If it’s mild, see your GP or call NHS 111 immediately. However, if you have severe symptoms call 999 or visit A&E. Please make sure that you explain to the medics how you think it developed e.g. tampon use, open wound or nosebleed!
Luckily TSS is very treatable, and the type of treatment depends on the severity or variety of your symptoms. Best-case scenario, a course of antibiotics is all that is required, but in some cases, pooled immunoglobulin, dialysis and surgery is needed.
It is very easy to prevent TSS, here are the recommended precautions according to the NHS:
“Luckily TSS is very treatable, and the type of treatment depends on the severity or variety of your symptoms
- Always use a tampon with the lowest absorbency suitable for your menstrual flow.
- Alternate tampons with sanitary towels during your period.
- Wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon.
- Change tampons regularly.
- Never insert more than one tampon at a time.
- When using a tampon at night, insert a fresh tampon before going to bed and remove it upon waking.
- Treat wounds quickly and hygienically; seek medical advice if concerned about infection.
- Avoid packing a nosebleed.
- Always follow the recommended instructions in tampon boxes and with female barrier contraceptives.
- If you have had TSS before, avoid tampon use and female barrier contraceptives all together.
TSS is so rare that most doctors will not come across it during their medical careers. If everyone continues to practices the above precautions, TSS will remain a rare infection.