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 menstrual disorder, but to the 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 come together, such as having a vagina harboring a Staphylococcus aureus that produces a particular toxin called TSST-1 (this affects around 1% of women), having your period and keeping an internal device in for too long, the bacteria becomes dangerous. The organism produces a toxin that enters the bloodstream and reaches the organs. That's when it becomes dangerous: it gets stuck and proliferates.

The main cause of toxic shock: forgotten tampons

Forgetting to use a tampon is a leading cause of TSS. When a tampon is forgotten, blood stagnates inside the vagina, encouraging toxins to proliferate.

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

Other symptoms include

  • arterial hypotension
  • accelerated heart rate
  • confusion

TSS symptoms are generally observed 12 hours after surgery or childbirth, and 3 to 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 to treat toxic shock syndrome

As soon as you feel these symptoms, if you're wearing internal protection: remove it. Then go straight to hospital. There, a healthcare 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, Santé publique France's study recommends the following.

Change your 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.

Choose external sanitary 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 or the environment. Choose one made from organic cotton to respect your intimate zone as much as possible.

Adapting menstrual protection to your 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 heavy 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 zone as much as possible, to avoid infection and microbial development, thanks to their breathable organic cotton. Our panties can be adapted to your whole life as a woman: from the first period to the menopause.
They are available for light to heavy or even hemorrhagic flows.

Menstrual toxic shock FAQ

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 faster 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, menstrual cups or, more generally, internal vaginal devices, make sure you change them every 4 hours to avoid bacterial proliferation.

Is toxic shock linked to tampons?

Toxic shock syndrome is not only linked to the use of tampons; the cup can also contribute to it. Indeed, when you use a menstrual cup, blood stagnates, making it a favorable environment for bacterial development.

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