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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Toxic Shock Syndrome


Toxic shock syndrome is an illness which is caused by the use of toxins which mixes with the blood. Toxins mean poison which is circulated through the blood in the whole body. It is a very serious bacterial infection.

People having this disease can easily develop low blood pressure, high fever and even rashes. In 1978, it was first found in children. It was linked to the use of tampons, and now it is linked to contraceptive sponge and diaphragm birth control methods.

Cause of TSS

The toxins produced by bacteria are the cause of TSS. As these toxins are released in the blood cells and weaken the immune system. Women who is infected by the bacteria which live in the vagina of women and encouraged its growth by the tampon. After toxins mixes with the blood it spreads to other locations in the body.

TSS is caused by the bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) and is linked with the use of tampons. It usually occurs in menstruating women. TSS is also caused by other bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes) which cause strep throat.

Symptoms ofTSS

If this disease prevails for long time it will have a worse effect on various organ systems such as kidneys, liver, pancreas etc. Some of the symptoms are:-

  • Headache

  • Fever greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.9 degrees Celsius

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Cough

  • Low blood pressure

When to Seek Medical Care


If a child has the symptoms of TSS like a fever and a red rash then immediately call a doctor. The most common cause which affects the children below than ten years are scarlet fever and viruses. If the child is suffering with severe nausea and vomiting then he should be taken to the doctor immediately.


If the symptoms of TSS are found along with a high fever and without a rash he/she should contact the doctor. Viral illness can also lead to cough, sore throat, fever etc.

Diagnosis of TSS

If the person sees the vital symptoms, then the person should be examined thoroughly. If the doctor finds that the person is suffering with TSS he should be diagnosed properly. Then various procedures are performed like the person is connected to a heart monitor and multiple IV lines are placed. Treatment for shock is also given to the patient. The following tests required to diagnose TSS are:-

  • Blood count of red and white blood cells and platelets are tested.

  • Cultures of blood and other body fluids and tissues are tested whether the person has staph or strep bacteria in the blood or not.

  • The infections like sepsis; typhoid fever etc should be tested to check the infection.

Treatment of TSS

Treatment for shock or any organ failure is necessary or person is also admitted to ICU when he has breathing problems. Treatment for strep or staph TSS is done in the following ways:-

  • Antibiotics are given to the person so that bacteria are killed.

  • Source of the infection like contraceptive sponge, tampon etc are removed

  • If the complications are developed during low blood pressure, shock or illness they should also be treated.

Prevention of TSS

The patient should take the following precautions:-

  • After childbirth tampons and contraceptives should be avoided during first twelve months.

  • If the person is having menstrual TSS, intrauterine device, tampons etc should be avoided.

  • If there is severe pain, swelling or redness around the wound the person should seek medical examination immediately.

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