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Toxic shock syndrome What is it and how to avoid it?

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, but potentially serious disease that occurs when toxic substances (toxins) produced by certain bacteria enter the circulatory stream.

The toxins cause a type of blood poisoning secondary to staphylococcal or streptococcal infections, less frequently from the lungs, throat, skin or bone, or resulting from trauma.

Women who use superabsorbent tampons during menstruation are more likely to experience toxic shock syndrome.

The toxic shock syndrome attracted attention for the first time during the 1970s. Shortly after the introduction of superabsorbent tampons, some women experienced serious and unexplained epidemic symptoms. Go to emergency services with high fever, vomiting, peeling skin, low blood pressure, diarrhea and sunburn-like skin rashes.

The only common feature is that they were all menstruating at the time they felt sick and that they were all using tampons – especially superabsorbent ones.

At the origin of this situation, the causal products are withdrawn from the market, and the incidence of the disorder has decreased very significantly. This decline was probably due to tampon manufacturers ceasing to use some synthetic materials and the withdrawal from the market of the tampon brand associated with most cases of toxic shock syndrome.

Nowadays, most of these products are made of rayon or cotton. Despite the association of toxic shock syndrome with menstruating women, the disease can affect anyone of both sexes and of any age, being able to be observed in children, men and women who do not menstruate or that they are weakened. due to surgery, trauma or illness and they cannot fight against it staphylococcal infection. New mothers are also at increased risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Most of the recently described cases of toxic shock syndrome still affected menstruating women under the age of 30. They occur in approximately 17 out of every 100,000 menstruating women each year, and more than half are related to tampon use. Between 5 and 10% of those affected die.

There is a new type of toxic shock syndrome caused by a different bacteria (group A streptococcus): streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. It is related to a very aggressive strain of strep and affects one or two out of every 100,000 people. It almost always happens after one tonsillitis pultacea simple.


Causes of toxic shock syndrome

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is caused by a strain of Streptococcus pyogenes that is found in the nose, mouth, and occasionally the vagina. Bacteria produce a toxin; characteristic that, in sufficiently large quantities, can enter the circulatory stream and cause a potentially fatal infection.

Although experts know the number of bacteria, several years after the epidemic they still do not understand the relationship between toxic shock syndrome and tampons. Most medical researchers now suspect that absorbent tampons introduce oxygen into the vagina, an area that is normally oxygen-free.

Oxygen allows bacterial growth and, the more absorbent the tampon is, the more bacteria can grow. Some experts believe that toxic shock syndrome is related to tampons – specifically, that bacteria can become contaminated and multiply in them. If it has been left in place for a long time – as a woman wearing a super-absorbent product often does – the bacteria are more likely to multiply and produce a large amount of toxins.

It’s also possible that tampons or the chemicals they contain irritate the vaginal mucosa, allowing the toxin to enter the bloodstream.

Usually these types of bacteria are present on the hands or the vagina, and only a small amount is needed to start the infection. Of the 15% of women who carry Staphylococcus aureus, only about 5% have the strain that produces the toxin of toxic shock syndrome.


Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome begins abruptly with elevated fiber of 39 °C or more, vomitingwatery diarrhea, headache, and a sunburn-like rash, in addition to pharyngitis and muscle pains. Blood pressure can drop sharply one or two days after the first pressure symptoms appear. At this time, the woman may be disoriented or go into shock, there may be one kidney failure and then the skin on the hands and feet peels off.

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome can occur after a streptococcal infection in the body, usually from an infected wound or one. chicken pox. After 48 to 96 hours, the patient’s blood pressure usually drops sharply. There is also fever, vertigo, breathing problems and a fast, weak pulse. The area around the wound is sometimes inflamed, and there may be kidney or liver failure and bleeding problems.



Any woman who wears a tampon and begins to experience symptoms of toxic shock syndrome should let go and seek medical attention. The doctor will likely examine the vagina for signs of inflammation and rule out more common sexually transmitted diseases that present with similar symptoms. Various blood tests, study of vaginal secretions and a physical examination can be performed to identify the disease.



Toxic shock syndrome is a serious disorder that endangers the patient’s life. If suspected, seek urgent medical attention. Treatment with antibiotics and intravenous fluids is absolutely necessary.

The patient goes through a battery of tests to confirm the diagnosis, then is usually admitted to the intensive care unit to begin treatment with antibiotics to fight the bacteria.

Other medicines are also used to relieve the symptoms and eliminate the infection and settled. In some cases of more advanced infection, amputation of a limb may be necessary. This is why early diagnosis, right at the onset of symptoms, is so important.

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There are remedies that can be used after the affected person returns home and is in a recovery period which must be taken as a complement to the medical treatment such as ven d’or, calendula y echinacea that can be used topically.

A low azure diet associated with an increase in the consumption of vegetables and fruits helps to recover the community system. Movement and exercise therapies are also beneficial.


Preventive recommendations

Women who wear tampons should change them often and use different brands and types of pads and tampons. If you prefer tampons, experts recommend the least absorbent products, made with cotton and rayon, and wearing them only during the day. In the past, it was difficult to compare the absorption tasks of different products.

Currently, standardized absorption determinations are required on all tampon containers. In addition, women should wash their hands before inserting a tampon and change it every four to six hours. Anyone who has toxic shock syndrome once should never use tampons again.

In the case of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, doctors are not yet sure how it can be prevented, but they recommend that open wounds be cleaned and bandaged immediately. Anyone with a reddened, inflamed or painful wound or sudden-onset fever should seek medical attention.

Likewise, proper care must be taken after surgery, keeping the wounds always clean and constantly covered, as recommended by doctors. If you notice any unusual symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.


Also know

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Natural remedies for E. coli or Escherichia coli

Remedy for enterococcus faecalis

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