What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome is a bacterial infection in the body. It was once associated with tampon use and also use of the diaphragm and the contraceptive sponge. The tampons that sparked the controversy are no longer available, but the label remains as a warning inside packages of tampons.

There are actually two types of toxic shock syndrome. The first is the one that is most often associated with tampons. Using a tampon that has too high an absorbency for your menstrual flow can lead to a warm moist environment for bacteria. The bacteria in question are staphylococcus aureus, which is naturally found on the skin.

But, toxic shock syndrome can also be linked to streptococcus bacteria. It enters the body through cuts, abrasions or surgical infections and can lead to toxic shock in the body of the affected person.

Toxic shock syndrome symptoms

If your type of toxic shock results from tampons or birth control, it is the result of an infection by staphylococcus. The first symptom is usually a bout of vomiting. As vomiting can be associated with many other conditions it is important to look for the presence of other symptoms as well.

A fever is also present, along with diarrhea, aches, sore throat and headaches. These are also common symptoms but if there is no indication that you ate something bad or have a cold or flu, there may be another answer. There is also a drop in blood pressure that can result in fainting.

One telltale sign for toxic shock syndrome is a red rash that appears within a day of the other symptoms, resembling sunburn. There will also be redness on the face and in the vaginal areas. Broken blood vessels on the skin are another sign that it is not the flu. The affected person may become confused, tired, thirsty and weak, and may develop pale clammy skin. Their breathing may become rapid and shallow as well.

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome symptoms

Most of the same symptoms are present but at different stages. Once the streptococcus enters the skin through a wound of some kind, blood pressure drops low. Fever and dizziness along with confusion and rapid shallow breathing are present. There is a rash present also.

Examining the area around the wound shows something else. The skin will be red and swollen, indicating an infection. The flesh may actually begin to necrose or die. Filtering organs, the liver and the kidneys may begin to shut down as a result.