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Health & Wellbeing / Claire Blackmore

#TabooTuesday: What’s The Deal With Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome is rare but it can be deadly so it’s best to understand the symptoms. Toxic Shock Syndrome – or TSS – occurs when usually harmless bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus bacteria get into the bloodstream and produce dangerous toxins.

Today, consultant gynecologist, Mr N Pisal, from London Gynecology, talks us through toxic shock syndrome…

How do you get toxic shock syndrome?

“Toxic shock syndrome is typically caused by forgotten tampons leading to infection and occasionally sepsis. In today’s busy life, it is quite possible to forget a tampon. Some women don’t like the retriever thread to be visible and the tampon can move upwards and then be forgotten. Other than tampons, Toxic shock syndrome can also be caused by retained foreign bodies such as forgotten pessaries or swabs.”

What are the symptoms?

“The symptoms are; vaginal discharge which can become smelly and purulent, discomfort, lower abdominal pain and occasionally, in serious cases, a raised temperature, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and feeling dizzy.”

How can you avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome?

“It is best to change your tampon regularly, remember to take a tampon out and not put a new one unless the old one is out. It is not very common to forget a tampon, so please don’t get paranoid.”

What’s the longest I should leave a tampon in?

“You should not leave a tampon in for longer than a day. Check the leaflet that comes with your tampons for information and guidance on how to use.”

What should I do if I think I have it?

“Please see your doctor or a gynecologist as soon as possible. An examination will be necessary along with vaginal swabs to look for infection and remove the tampon. A course of antibiotics may also be prescribed if necessary.”

Are some sanitary products safer than others?

“Panty liners, sanitary towels or moon cups would be safer than tampons in this respect. However, tampons are often more comfortable and practical and the chances of forgetting to remove one are not very high.”

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