Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is most commonly associated with women who use high-absorbency tampons. This type of TSS first emerged during 1979 and 1980. Since then, the incidence of TSS has declined significantly. This is thought to be due to the withdrawal of ultra-absorbent tampons from the market.
Today, less than 50% of TSS cases are due to tampon use. This condition can affect post-menopausal women, men, and children. Other risk factors for TSS include staph infection, recent childbirth, surgery, burns, and wound infection.
Telltale signs and symptoms of TSS
One of the main symptoms of TSS is a red, itchy rash which resembles sunburn and covers the skin. Within one or two weeks after the rash, the skin begins to peel. Other symptoms include redness of eyes, throat, and mouth, high fever, diarrhea, headaches, confusion, muscle aches, low blood pressure, as well as nausea and vomiting. If not treated early, TSS can cause seizures and organ failure.
There is no single test that a doctor can perform to diagnose TSS. He or she will take into consideration the presence of a peeling rash, high fever, low blood pressure, and problems with organ function. The doctor may also order blood tests to look for Streptococcus pyognes or Streptococcus aureus.
TSS treatment and prognosis
TSS can be fatal in as many as 50% of cases. The aim of treatment is to maintain the body’s normal functions until the infection is over. This will typically include sterilizing the site of infection, giving the patient IV fluids to stay hydrated and IV antibiotics to kill the infection, and medicines to stabilize the blood pressure. If there are problems with the kidneys, the patient will be given dialysis. In severe cases of TSS, the patient will have to stay in the hospital intensive care unit and intravenous gamma globulin may also be given.
Possible complications can arise from TSS. These include damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart. TSS may also include severe shock. For these reasons, it is important that anyone who suspects that themselves or a family member has TSS, they should go to the hospital immediately.