Toxic Shock Syndrome

(TSS)

Definition

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a group of symptoms throughout the body. This illness can progress rapidly. It can lead to a failure of multiple body systems. Toxic shock syndrome can be fatal.There are two types of TSS:
  • Menstrual type —associated with menstruation and tampon use
  • Non-menstrual type—can occur in men, women, and children

Causes

TSS is caused by toxins released from specific bacteria. Bacteria infects the body through cuts or sores. The bacteria can create toxins as it grows. These toxins are harmful to many of your body's systems. The damage to your body is what causes the range of symptoms.
Immune System
Immune system white blood cell
The immune system creates antibodies to fight bacteria.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
TSS was originally associated with tampon use. It was common in women who used a particular type of highly absorbent tampons. As a result, these tampons were removed from the market. The number of TSS infections due to tampons has since significantly decreased.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of TSS include:
  • Tampon use
  • Birth control devices placed in the vagina
  • Chickenpox
  • Skin lesions such as burns
  • Wound packing—done after certain surgeries or procedures such as sinus or nasal surgery
  • Surgical wounds
  • Recent childbirth
  • Alcohol abuse
  • HIV infection

Symptoms

A person with TSS often appears very ill. Symptoms usually come on suddenly. Fever, chills, and body aches may start up to 4 days before other symptoms develop such as:
  • Fever of 102ºF (39ºC) or greater
  • Sunburn-like rash
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sore throat
  • Red eyes
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Sleepiness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Vaginal discharge that may be watery or bloody
  • Swelling in the face and eyelids
  • Skin peeling off, especially palms of hands and soles of feet
Symptoms of severe TSS include:
  • Fainting, severe lightheadedness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Fluid retention
The infection can lead to severe complications such as:
  • Kidney failure—little or no urine production
  • Gangrene
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heart problems
  • Liver failure
  • Low platelet count

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