Toxic Shock Syndrome and Tampons: Be Careful!
Toxic Shock Syndrome is nothing new, and despite efforts to prevent it, it continues taking lives in many places around the world.
It’s a grave disease that is caused by toxins that the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus produces and its proliferation is linked to feminine hygiene products such as tampons.
Even though it is not that common, there is still a high level of alert due to the number of cases in recent years, many with terrible consequences.
One of the most high profile cases was the American model Lauren Wasser, who lost a leg as a result of this disease attributed to tampon use.
The 27-year-old began a legal battle against Kotex Natural Balance for the infection that almost cost her life.
Even though some assure us that less than half of the reported cases have to do exclusively with tampon use, there are still strict recommendations against it.
What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a grave and sometimes deadly affliction that is produced by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, whose abnormal growth produce a toxin powerful enough to lead to septic death.
It can affect anybody, but the first identified cases were in women who had used tampons during menstruation.
It was discovered during the 1980s by the microbiologist Philip Tierno and his team, who determined that the conditions provided by synthetic material to bacteria were to blame.
Many of these materials are no longer permitted for industrial use, but the disease continues to be a problem as related cases continue being reported.
It’s worth noting that the majority of TSS cases are also related to other circumstances, such as some surgical procedures, and not tampon use during menstruation alone.
Why is tampon use related to Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Up to now, there is no completely proven link between tampon use and toxic shock syndrome, even though multiple cases in recent decades are the primary evidence.
Bacteriologists and infectious disease experts suggest that given the capacity that these products can absorb and there placement in the vagina, the staphylococcus increase the production of toxins and these toxins have the perfect conditions to grow.
This also brings a higher concentration of oxygen to the area, which increases risk of infection.
That’s why it’s advised to use this product following strict precautions and always choosing the lowest level of absorption.
Under no circumstance should the same tampon be used for more than eight hours.
What are the symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome?
The normal symptoms that people report are a general sense of discomfort with high fever, confusion and dizziness.
As it proceeds, blood pressure decreases, skin alterations appear and vomiting and diarrhea become frequent.
Given its sudden and unexpected onset, it can lead to serious consequences such as kidney deficiency, liver and heart problems.
Cases not quickly treated often lead to death.
What is the treatment?
The general treatment of this disease includes administration of liquids and antibiotics capable of stopping the production of toxins.
Medicine to recover vital signs are also used, such as low blood pressure medicine, supportive therapy and fluid recovery, among others.
If there is an abscess, the area is drained to remove pus.
It’s necessary to keep the patient under medical observation to monitor blood pressure, respiration and organ activity.
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What precautions can I take?
Infections from tampons are not common, but no one is exempt from them, especially if you do not use them correctly.
- They should not be used for more than 8 hours. In fact, it’s best to change them every 4 or 5.
- If menstruation is heavy, the best options are feminine pads or a menstrual cup.
- When possible, tampons should only be used in special situations, such as at the beach, during physical activity or when using certain clothing.
- The ideal choice are low absorption, because the more fluid they absorb, the higher the risk of illness.
- Tampons should be kept in a cool, dry place to avoid bacterial growth.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is an illness that requires immediate attention. Otherwise, the consequences can be fatal.
It’s recommended to seek medical attention immediately upon experiencing the above symptoms, especially if risk factors are identified.