Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome or TSS is a very rare but also a very serious illness that can affect both men and women and can be caught after a serious burn, insect bite or after surgery. However, it is mostly associated with using tampons.

It is best that you are aware of the symptoms and ensure that your pre-teen daughter is also aware of them before using tampons.

TSS is extremely rare with only around 40 cases every year in the UK. The majority of people recover fully, however because TSS develops very quickly, on average two or three people per year die from TSS.

There are several possible symptoms of TSS including:

  • Flu like symptoms
  • High Temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • A rash similar to sunburn
  • Red eyes
  • Achy muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sore throat

These symptoms often get worse very quickly. If you have been using a tampon and feel you are suffering from any of these it is important to remove the tampon and seek help from either your parent or doctor immediately. It is possible that it is not TSS although it is best to get a medic to rule out the possibility.

Although people associate TSS with tampon use, only 50 per cent of cases are women using tampons. Therefore there is no need to refuse tampon use during your period. However, you could follow these easy steps to help reduce your chances of getting TSS:

  • If your flow is light, change to a sanitary pad/towel or even a panty liner
  • Use a pad/towel at night-time
  • Always change your tampon every four to six hours
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after inserting your tampon
  • Use the lowest absorbency that you can for your bleed

by Jenny, mum to William and James

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