Advice For Identifying Toxic Shock Syndrome

toxic shock syndrome

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Toxic shock is the clinical term for the range of bacteria that causes Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) to occur in the body. Many ‘staph’ bacteria are highly contagious and can cause toxic shock, leading to fatal outcomes if not treated.

Is Toxic Shock Syndrome Rare?

Yes! Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but serious illness caused when toxins are released into the bloodstream by the staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The toxins build up in the bloodstream, poisoning the blood and leading to the symptoms of toxic shock becoming apparent. Toxic Shock Syndrome can lead to severely damaged vital organs and corrupted body tissues that become life-threatening when left untreated, resulting in a fatal outcome.

Toxic shock syndrome can affect anyone, and both genders equally can contract TSS. The way men acquire toxic shock syndrome is different to the majority of cases in women.

Toxic shock is more common among younger women when they are menstruating or new to using tampons and period cups internally. There is no conclusive evidence to date linking the correct use of tampons or period cups to Toxic shock syndrome. The evidence only points to the incorrect use, unhygienic insertion, or forgetting that they have inserted something vaginally and leaving it in place beyond the recommended time frame.

How Do You Get Toxic Shock Syndrome

The most common cause of toxic shock syndrome in men is surgical procedures, burns, and open wounds that have become infected.

Women have higher rates due to all of the above, as well as the addition of using intravaginal devices for birth control like IUDs or contraceptive sponges and using tampons and period cups when they menstruate.

Can Toxic Shock Syndrome Be Prevented

Yes! There are several ways you can prevent developing Toxic Shock Syndrome. They are all common sense in nature, and when applied diligently, they will prevent bacterial infection and the possibility of getting toxic shock syndrome.

  • Washing your hands regularly with normal soap and water to prevent bacteria from building up and transferring to other areas of the body that have softer tissues allowing easy penetration of the bacteria into places it should not be when dressing burns, wounds, and care for post-surgical closure sites.
  • Ensure all open wounds and burns remain clean and sterile and are properly dressed under sterile dressings that help the wound heal as quickly as possible and reduce exposure to external bacteria and the open air.
  • Washing your hands before and after inserting a tampon. Scrubbing under long or acrylic nails removes invisible to the eye microbes and bacteria before inserting and retrieving a period cup or tampon.
  • Use the correct product for your period discharge flow volume.
  • Change the tampon every three hours or more frequently if required.
  • Tampons are not ideal for a heavy flow, and a period cup should be considered where the user is NOT A VIRGIN.
  • Remove, clean, and sterilise a period cup with a product like Milton’s antibacterial cleaner between uses.
  • Restricting the use of tampons when a sanitary pad or reusable period underwear can be worn at night removes all possibilities of developing toxic shock syndrome overnight.
  • Never insert more than one tampon at a time under any circumstance!
  • Remove any object inserted into the vagina and dispose of it correctly for single-use items. For reusable items, sterilise using the manufacturer’s guidelines for the product.
  • If you are the “forgetful type“, leave yourself a note on the bathroom mirror to remind you that you inserted a tampon or period cup and to remove it.

What Are The Warning Signs Of Toxic Shock Syndrome

If you are First Aid certified, you will be well versed in recognising the signs of shock in a person. If you have never taken a First Aid course, now is the perfect time to jump online and check out your options with your nearest Registered Training Organisation offering accredited First Aid Courses, and book your course today.  

Signs of shock may present as:

  • A high temperature leading to fever and uncontrollable shaking
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • A skin rash that looks like sunburn
  • Peeling patches of skin on the feet and hands
  • Muscular aches
  • Headaches
  • A sore throat
  • Red eyes
  • Confusion
  • A drop in blood pressure
  • Joint pains
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Kidney failure
  • Collapse

Can Toxic Shock Syndrome Be Cured

Yes! Toxic shock syndrome can be cured and is easily treated in a hospital using antibiotics. If the condition has developed beyond the initial stage, providing the appropriate treatment to any other organ functions that have been affected will be an additional level of difficulty to correct on top of the toxic shock syndrome. Treatment is normally successful if TSS is detected early and acted upon when the first signs of being unwell begin to manifest. However, in rare cases, it can lead to a fatal outcome.

Where To Get Help For Toxic Shock Syndrome

In an emergency, always call an ambulance in Australia by dialling triple zero (000). However, your body will show signs of entering a state of toxic shock long before you require an ambulance. Treatment can be found from your personal doctor or any licenced physician. They can remove any ‘lost’ tampons and prescribe the necessary antibiotics and tests needed to rule out any other complications that might be developing the longer the situation goes untreated.

If your symptoms are advanced, you can present at the nearest Emergency Department and be triaged for assessment and treatment.

Will Toxic Shock Syndrome Cure Itself

NO! You will require medical attention, and there is no way to avoid that!

If you feel embarrassed, remember that doctors see all kinds of embarrassing things people do to their bodies daily. Some intentionally and others unintentionally. It is only embarrassing for you, not your doctor. The result of not getting over your embarrassment and seeking medical treatment will be your death. If you think death is the better option, know that it will not be painless and quick. You will suffer as your vital organs systematically begin to shut down one after the other like a computer being shut down. At some point, you will lose consciousness and likely end up in an emergency room undergoing emergency surgery with a long recovery period that will be far more embarrassing to explain when you are asked why you didn’t seek treatment when you first felt unwell.

First Aid Course Experts

We take having access to medical treatment for granted in this country. As a result, society becomes complacent. Would you rather be a survivor or a statistic? The choice is yours alone. First Aid Course Experts offers a range of First Aid courses in over 120 locations Australia-wide. Visit our FACE Blog page for inspiration, motivation and to improve your First Aid general knowledge skills while exploring the website.

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