Question: What is toxic shock syndrome?

A friend recently told me about "Toxic Shock Syndrome" – I had never heard about it before. Could you please give me some of the facts regarding it. How common is it and can it really be fatal?

Answer

Many people are unaware of this condition. Toxic shock syndrome can potentially be fatal, but with proper medical treatment patients normally recover completely within two to three weeks. It is caused by a bacterial toxin, most commonly from the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyrogenes. The most common symptoms of toxic shock include skin rash, fever, nausea, vomiting, weakness, muscle pain, low blood pressure, and confusion which can progress to multiple organ failure and coma if left untreated. Hospitalisation is often required for the treatment of this condition due to its severity and rapid progress. Treatment includes clearing the original infection with antibiotics, and fluid replacement with a drip. Toxic shock syndrome occurs more commonly in menstruating woman who use high absorbency tampons. Hyper absorbent tampons may increase the risk for bacterial infection because their prolonged use enhances bacterial growth. You can reduce your risk by using a tampon with minimum absorbency needed to control your flow and changing them often as directed. Sleeping with a tampon is not recommended and can increase your risk for developing toxic shock syndrome. Read more about various conditions and treatments on the Health Renewal website.

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