What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus and it can affect men and women.

Staphylococcus Aureus is one of the most common bacteria.
When tampons were first used they were associated with an increased risk of TSS. Teaching women how to use tampons hygienically and correctly has decreased this risk considerably.

Symptoms can appear very quickly and are similar to severe flu. They can include:

  • A sudden headache
  • Some muscular pains
  • A sudden high fever of 39°C or higher
  • Fever and cold sweats
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea, or both
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Some weakness or confusion
  • A rash that looks like nasty sunburn

Remember that not all TSS cases are exactly alike, and not all of these symptoms are always present. In the slight chance of experiencing any of the above symptoms while using a tampon, please go to your doctor/ clinic /casualty ASAP.

If you have had TSS before, it’s recommended that you don’t use tampons again – unless it is for a short while to swim.

Here are a few ways how you can reduce the risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome:

  • Always wash your hands before and after inserting the tampon.
  • Remove the tampon wrapping in such a way that you don’t touch the tampon to avoid contaminating it.
  • First twist the tampon to break the seal.
  • Hold the tampon on the ROUNDED END while you take the wrapper off the lower end.
  • Unravel the string.
  • Then hold the tampon at the bottom by holding the string (like a sucker stick) and take the wrapping off the rounded end.
  • Now you can insert the tampon and you have not touched it.
  • Always remove the used tampon before inserting another tampon.
  • You don’t need to use a tampon at the end of your period because your vagina is dry – and you may forget that you are wearing one.
  • You must change your tampon at least every 4 hours – more often if your flow is heavy
  • Only wear the absorbency that you need e.g. don’t wear a super tampon to save having to change your tampon more often.
  • Don’t wear tampons at night. Firstly, they need to be changed 4 hourly and secondly, when you’re lying down, gravity can’t pull the blood into the tampon the way it can when you are walking around during the day.
  • Don’t force the tampon to fit inside your vagina. If it feels uncomfortable, rather use a pad.
  • Only use tampons when you are menstruating and not at any other time.
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