Toxic shock syndrome is a severe disease that involves fever, shock, and problems with the function of several body organs.
Toxic shock syndrome is caused by a toxin produced by certain types of Staphylococcus bacteria. A similar syndrome, called toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS), can be caused by Streptococcal bacteria.
Although the earliest described cases of toxic shock syndrome involved women who were using tampons during their periods (menstruation), just slightly over half of current cases are associated with such events. Toxic shock syndrome can also occur in children, postmenopausal women, and men.
Risk factors include:
No single test can diagnose toxic shock syndrome. The diagnosis is based on several criteria: fever, low blood pressure, a rash that peels after 1-2 weeks, and problems with the function of at least three organs. In some cases, blood cultures may be positive for growth of S. aureus.
Any foreign materials, such as tampons, vaginal sponges, or nasal packing, will be removed. Sites of infection (such as a surgical wound) will be drained.
The goal of treatment is to maintain important body functions. This may include:
Toxic shock syndrome may be deadly in up to 50% of cases. The condition may return in those that survive.
Toxic shock syndrome is a medical emergency. You must seek immediate attention if you develop fever or rash, particularly during menstruation and tampon use, or if you have had recent surgery.
Menstrual toxic shock syndrome can be prevented by avoiding the use of highly absorbent tampons. You can reduce your risk by changing tampons more frequently and using tampons only once in a while (not regularly) during menstruation.
Staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome