Toxic shock syndrome is a serious health concern for women who use tampons. However, this condition is very rare and can often be prevented by carefully following the instructions provided by the tampon manufacturer. Choosing the best organic tampons can also reduce your risk. These are the facts every woman should know about toxic shock syndrome.
What Causes Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Toxic shock syndrome occurs when bacteria, often Staphylococcus aureus, enters the bloodstream and creates toxins. Use of super-absorbent tampons is associated with this condition, but it can also affect men, women, and children of all ages. This can occur if a skin injury allows bacteria to enter the body. Toxic shock syndrome is more likely to affect women who have recently given birth and those who use a diaphragm or vagina sponge for contraception. If you are concerned about your risk for this condition, consider switching from tampons to the best organic period pads.
What Are the Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome?
If you develop toxic shock syndrome, you will likely experience a sudden onset of symptoms. These vary among individuals but may include seizures, fever, red eyes and mouth, low blood pressure, rash, headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches, diarrhea, and confusion. Many people mistake the signs of toxic shock syndrome for another illness, such as the flu. If you develop any of these symptoms after using a tampon or suffering a serious cut, seek immediate medical attention. The doctor can diagnose toxic shock syndrome with a blood test. Left untreated, this condition can lead to shock and failure of the heart, liver or kidneys.
How Is Toxic Shock Syndrome Treated?
This condition is a severe medical emergency. People who develop toxic shock syndrome typically receive intravenous antibiotics and may be admitted to the hospital to be monitored in the intensive care unit. Medications may be given to suppress inflammation, boost immunity and stabilize blood pressure. After discharge, oral antibiotics are prescribed for up to six weeks to completely clear the infection.
Can Toxic Shock Syndrome Be Prevented?
Good hygiene practices can help ward off the bacteria that leads to toxic shock syndrome. Follow these tips to lower your risk:
- Choose the right type of tampon with the best type of tampon applicator for you. Select the lowest possible absorbency for your needs.
- Never leave in a tampon for more than eight hours. Ideally, change your tampon within four to six hours.
- Clean hands carefully with antibacterial soap before inserting or removing a tampon.
- Consider using other types of period products rather than tampons. Cloth or disposable pads and reusable menstrual cups are options that do not raise your risk for toxic shock syndrome.
- Avoid using tampons if you have had toxic shock syndrome in the past.
If you have a wound, clean it thoroughly and change dressings often to prevent bacteria from entering the cut. You should also seek medical attention for serious skin injuries, as they may require stitches.
Although toxic shock syndrome sounds scary, it affects only a very small percentage of women who use tampons. This advice can help you practice safe self-care during your period, regardless of what products you prefer.