Toxic shock syndrome: how to avoid and treat it?

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but very serious infectious disease that can be fatal. What are the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome? How do you catch it? We tell you all about it in this article!


What is toxic shock syndrome (TSS)?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called staphylococcus aureus. It's a rare condition, but one that requires emergency hospitalization. Toxic shock syndrome can have irreversible consequences on organs such as the liver, lungs, heart and kidneys, and can be fatal if not treated quickly. TSS is not linked to a periods disorder, but to lthe use of certain sanitary products that encourage the growth of bacteria.

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria

This bacterium, also known as staphylococcus aureus, is naturally present in our environment and is harmless if it remains only on our skin (this is the case for 30 to 40% of the population). But if several causes s add up, such as having a vagina harboring a staphylococcus aureus that produces a particular toxin called TSST-1 (this affects around 1% of women), having periods and keeping an internal device for too long, the bacteria becomes dangerous. This organism will produce a toxin that will enter the bloodstream and reach the organs. This is where it becomes dangerous: it gets stuck and proliferates.

The main cause of toxic shock: the forgotten tampon

Lorgetting to usea tampon is a major cause of TSS. When a tampon is forgotten, blood stagnates inside the vagina, promoting the proliferation of toxins.

What are the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome?

The symptoms of toxic shock syndrome are very similar to those of the flu and gastroenteritis. They include :

  • dizziness, uneasiness
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • fever in some cases
  • muscle and joint pain
  • digestive disorders such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea

Then there are other events such as :

  • arterial hypotension
  • a faster heart rate
  • confusion

TSS is generally observed twelve hours after surgery or childbirth, and 3-5 days after the use of an internal vaginal solution. If you experience these symptoms while wearing one, remove it immediately and go tohospital.

How is toxic shock syndrome treated?

As soon as you feel these symptoms, if you are wearing internal protection: remove it. Then go straight to hospital. There, a health professional or emergency doctor will treat you as quickly as possible, administering antibiotics to stop the toxin spreading to vital organs.

Our advice on how to avoid toxic shock!

There are simple solutions to prevent toxic shock. In fact, these are the recommendations set out in a study by Santé publique France.

Changing tampons regularly

The first piece of advice is to change your internal protection (tampons and menstrual cups) regularly, every 4 hours. It's also strongly recommended not to use an internal method at night, as you won't be able to change regularly.

Priority to external hygienic protection

External sanitary protection is a very good alternative to internal options for avoiding toxic shock syndrome. Washable towels or menstrual pants keep you dry for up to 12 hours, without risk to your body, your health and the environment l. Choose one made from organic cotton to respect your intimate zone.

Adapting menstrual protection to your menstrual flow

Whatever solution you choose, it's important to choose one that's adapted to your menstrual flow. If you wear tampons, there's no point in using a large tampon for periods when you have a normal flow, as you risk drying out and unbalancing your vaginal flora...

Elia menstrual briefs are designed to respect your intimate area as much as possible, to avoid infection and microbial growth, thanks to their breathable organic cotton. Our spanties can be adapted to your entire life as a woman: from the first periods to the menopause.
They are available for light to heavy or even hemorrhagic flows.

Toxic shock FAQ periods

How do you know if you have toxic shock syndrome?

Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome are similar to those of the flu or gastroenteritis. Other symptoms, such as confusion, palpitations or very low blood pressure, may also appear, depending on the progress of the toxins. If you have these symptoms and are wearing an internal device, remove it immediately and go to hospital. The sooner TSS is treated, the greater the chance of recovery.

How can I avoid toxic shock syndrome?

Wearing external intimate protection such as menstrual panties helps prevent the development of staphylococci and therefore the onset of TSS. If you still wish to use tampons or a menstrual cup, or internal vaginal devices in general, be sure to change them every 4 hours to avoid bacterial proliferation.

Is toxic shock linked to tampons?

Toxic shock syndrome is not only linked to ltampons, but also to the menstrual cup. In fact, when you use a menstrual cup, blood stagnates, making it an ideal environment for bacterial growth.


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