By: Serena Crawford
Toxic Shock Syndrome is a very scary and very real medical issue. It is caused by certain types of Staphylococcus bacteria. For women this type of bacteria can be found in the [email protected] which is why there is a warning on tampon packaging. Should you leave a tampon in for too long and the bacteria becomes absorbed in it you have a much higher risk of the bacteria turning into an infection that enters your blood stream. Some of the symptoms are; confusion, weakness, headaches, muscle aches, nausea, and even organ failure. TSS can be deadly if it is not treated in time. Here are some frequently asked questions about TSS and a woman’s risk of developing it due to tampon use:
1. What is the main cause of TSS? – That would be the Staphylococcus bacteria that is found in your body. It is not a bacteria that you would realize that you have without testing. This bacteria is absorbed into the tampon and then is spread throughout your bloodstream.
2. How many people actually have this bacteria in their body? – Roughly 20% of people have the Staphylococcus bacteria. These people mainly have the bacteria on their skin or in their nose. The numbers are much smaller for those who have it internally.
3. Do I need to get tested for it? – No, you don’t need to get tested to see if you house this bacteria or not. Since your cycle cleans everything out and the bacteria changes daily in your [email protected] testing would be a waste of time as you may have the bacteria present one day and gone the next.
4. How do I know if I have TSS? – You will experience the symptoms listed above such as nausea, weakness, fever, chills, low blood pressure, and even organ failure. If you are not feeling right and you have a tampon in take it out immediately and see a doctor.
5. How many TSS cases are there reported every year? – According to the National Institute of Health there were 59 TSS cases that were diagnosed in the year 2014. It is not known how many of these were the result of tampon use while the staph bacteria was present. So far this year there have been a reported 26 cases so far. TSS can also be the result of nosebleeds, skin infections, and burns as the staph can get into the bloodstream.
6. How can you best prevent TSS? – There are no foolproof methods to preventing TSS but there are ways that you can lessen the risk. Use pads or the Diva Cup (a cup that catches your period blood and is emptied every few hours) so that you reduce the use of tampons. If you have to use tampons use ones with lower absorbency and make sure that you change them often.