You must have heard about toxic shock syndrome and somehow
we have been slaved to think how deadly it is. Toxic Shock
Syndrome (TSS) is a pretty rare illness which has been directly
linked to the use of tampons. This serious life-threatening disease
is associated with a bacteria-Staphylococcus aureus. It is
reported that 1 out of 100,000 people are affected by TSS.
Paltry but deadly.
TSS can in fact affect anyone-men ,children and menopausal
women but with a higher incidence in women upto the age of
30. The recurrence rate of this syndrome is 30% (in women)
who have been affected by the bacteria. The major cause of this
syndrome lies in the growth of the bacteria formed in and
around the tampon with the release of a toxin known as toxic
shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST1).
Toxic shock syndrome has a very abrupt and unforeseen onset
accompanied by a soaring fever, headaches, sore throat,
vomiting, hypotension (low blood pressure), erythematous rash
all over and malaise. Its progression rate is very high. It can
spread within hours and involve multiple organs such as the
heart , kidney and liver eventually compromising their function.
The mortality rate is around 20% in most cases if not treated
immediately. None of the symptoms are centered to the lady
parts , infact it produces symptoms all over the body.
So what causes it? Tampons must be changed every 4-6 hours.
Leaving on the tampon for more than 8 hours , creates a
favorable environment for the bacteria to harbor on to the fibre

of the tampon and produce toxins harmful to the body. Tampons
particularly made of polystyrene fibre provide a better
environment for the Staph bacteria rather than cotton fibers.
The tampon when kept for long hours causes microscopic tears
in the vagina which may rupture the blood vessels providing a
pathway for an infection. Open wounds , recent surgery and
burns can also be contributing factors to TSS.
The key to preventing the syndrome lies in taking precautions
especially for women during the menstrual cycle. Use tampons
with a low absorbency for your flow, although if possible try to
use pads as they are safer and do not pose any risk of infection.
To completely eliminate the cause , it is best not to use tampons
at all. Either way it is critical to remember the practice of
hygiene. Cases , wherein people had a surgery or have wounds
are susceptible to the infection and must be kept clean.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is diagnosed by testing for the staph
bacteria in urine and blood samples. It can be treated with
antibiotics and fluid replenishment. The symptoms are pretty
misleading as they are similar to flu. So seek immediate medical
attention if you experience any of the mentioned symptoms if
any of the risk factors are involved.
Out of paranoia , there is no compulsion to refrain from
tampons. As long as you take proper care and are aware of the
factors revolving around it , there is nothing to be petrified