Toxic Shock Syndrome: Causes and Prevention
March 09, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Toxic Shock Syndrome: Causes and Prevention

First described in 1927, toxic shock syndrome is more common than most people believe. Toxic Shock Syndrome is said to affect 3 to 6 women out of 100,000 in the United States alone, per year. It is a form of bacterial infection, mostly linked to the use of tampons and sanitary napkins.

If someone lacks the proper knowledge to protect themselves from this disease, it can prove to be an increasing issue for them and can lead to damage that is easily preventable.

Therefore, this blog intends to educate everyone, irrespective of gender, about toxic shock syndrome. It is a condition that is usually not talked about due to the taboo that surrounds it.

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome is simply defined as a condition that is spread by bacterial toxins. These bacteria generally include Streptococcus Pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus. Other bacterias may also be involved however these are the most common. The bacteria generally tends to spread via the improper use of tampons and sanitary napkins.

The signs and symptoms of this disease will vary on what is the underlying cause of the bacterial toxin spread. However, one of the more common symptoms shows in people who are generally healthy. These symptoms include high fever, low blood pressure, rash, skin diseases such as skin peeling, and an increasing urge to urinate.

However, more specific symptoms can include inflammation in the breasts, an infection in the bones, the presence of the infection which is known as the flesh-eating disease, or even pneumonia.

Other organs can also be harmed in the process. For example, toxic shock syndrome can also lead to diarrhea, vomiting, liver inflammation, low platelet count, and confusion in the central nervous system.

All of these symptoms prove that toxic shock syndrome has the potential to become a huge source of problems for a patient, even though this disease is mostly avoidable.

How Does Toxic Shock Syndrome Occur?

If the bacteria is on the nose or the mouth, it is not harmful. However, the deeper it goes into the body the more dangerous it becomes for the person.

One of the most common ways for toxic shock syndrome to occur is through the use of tampons and sanitary napkins. The way that this works is that when tampons are being used for long periods of time there is a possibility that the bacteria might make their way into the tampon and therefore use that as a vessel to enter into the body. Other causes include childbirth and some forms of female contraceptives.

Even though tampons are the most common means for a patient to get exposed to the bacteria, toxic shock syndrome can present itself in those people who do not use tampons such as men and children. Therefore the other causes of toxic shock syndrome also have to be recognized. These causes include a cut or a wound in the skin which can lead to the bacteria entering the body. Nosebleeds can also be a valid reason for toxic shock syndrome to occur.

It should however be noted that toxic shock syndrome is not contagious and that you cannot have it spread from one person to the other. Moreover, you can also not develop an immunity against it therefore it is possible to get it more than once.

One should therefore know the best ways to prevent toxic shock syndrome. These include using tampons with the lowest absorbency rate and changing them often, cleaning wounds and cuts as soon and as thoroughly as possible, making sure that your hands are clean when dealing with cuts and tampons.

If however, you feel you are showing any of the above-mentioned symptoms. Please make sure to contact a doctor before the situation worsens.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.