Toxic Shock Syndrome Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Toxic Shock Syndrome Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Toxic shock syndrome is caused by toxins released by certain strains of common bacteria. It occurs most often in healthy adults, but anyone can be reached. The injury, which allows penetration of bacteria is often minor or undetectable. In recent years, toxic shock syndrome has been linked to the use of tampons. The toxic shock syndrome develops rapidly and can be fatal. However, this disorder is relatively rare.


The toxins released by certain strains of particular families very common bacteria called staphylococci and streptococci are the cause of toxic shock syndrome. These bacteria are found everywhere, including our mucous membranes, such as the throat, mouth, nose and vagina. Most strains are harmless, but some bacteria release a toxin (poison) in the blood.

Sepsis is a generalized response of the organism to bacteria and other substances. Septic shock is a severe form of sepsis characterized by a shock (blood pressure so low that life is threatened). Toxic shock syndrome is a particular form of septic shock caused by the toxins the bacteria Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.

The use of buffers, especially type “super absorbent”, can also cause toxic shock syndrome. Toxic shock has attracted public attention in 1980 when over 700 women were infected around North America. It was found that the majority of these women had recently started using a new type of super absorbent pad. We do not really know what is the characteristic of these buffers which causes an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome, but it seems there is a relationship with a “drying” the vagina. Women who keep a diaphragm more than 24 hours are also at increased risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Many cases of toxic shock syndrome, however, are not related to tampon use, but can occur after surgery, accidental injury, or childbirth. Cases caused by streptococci generally occur after surgery, but sometimes the toxic shock syndrome is the result of an infection of the skin. Staph are usually involved in cases relating to the use of tampons.

Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms of toxic shock syndrome appear suddenly. Among these are:

• confusion;

• extreme weakness or fatigue;

• a high fever from 39 to 40.5 ° C (102 to 105 ° F);

• headaches;

• redness of the eyes;

• severe diarrhea;

• sore throat;

• vomiting;

• a rash accompanied by redness.

In severe cases, symptoms get rapidly worse over the next 24 to 48 hours. Huge quantities of liquids and minerals penetrate the tissues, causing loss to their vital organs. The blood supply decreases and blood pressure drops, which can cause unconsciousness and possibly coma. Respiratory problems can occur and it is possible that the blood and organs are not getting enough oxygen. After 1-2 weeks, the skin begins to peel, especially on the palms and soles of the feet. In addition, blood can not clot properly, which increases the risk of bleeding.

Many organs are severely threatened by the bacterial poison.Muscle, kidney, liver, heart and lungs can be damaged by infection, but they can recover with treatment.

Experts believe that many mild cases of toxic shock syndrome associated with tampon use are not reported or are confused with other diseases like influenza and gastroenteritis, as they do notenough to present serious symptoms listed above.


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and you will undergo a physical examination. It will also require blood tests and it may send a sample of blood or tissue to search for microorganisms.Other tests such as electrocardiograms, radiographs, CT scan or MRI may also be performed.

Treatment and Prevention

People who suffer from toxic shock syndrome need immediate intensive care. Tampons and diaphragms must be removed from the vagina. The treatment is primarily to replace lost fluids, orally or intravenously, with a special blend of essential fluids and electrolytes to the body (eg. Sodium, potassium). Some people may need a device called a ventilator to assist breathing. It is possible that we should administer drugs to raise blood pressure.

Wounds and all sources of infection are rinsed with water. Infected wounds are cleaned we may remove some infected tissue if needed.

Antibiotics are also administered intravenously (into a vein), especially to reduce the risk of recurrent infection. Human antibodies (immunoglobulins) can also help in extreme cases.

Fortunately, the toxic shock syndrome is rarer now than during the 1980s through the recall of buffer models the most dangerous. The following measures will also enable women to reduce the risk of developing toxic shock syndrome:

• when profuse bleeding, alternate tampons and sanitary napkins;

• change tampons every 4 to 6 hours;

• Maintain good general hygiene, especially in the vaginal area;

• remove the last buffer from the end of menstrual bleeding;

• wear a pad outside at night;

• use the least absorbent pad possible.