WHAT IS TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME?
Toxic Shock Syndrome develops when the common bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, produce a toxin which is absorbed into the bloodstream. The toxin rapidly overwhelms the immune system and attacks the major organs, leading to kidney failure, collapse of the lungs and in severe cases, cardiac arrest. Alarmingly, half of all known cases of Toxic Shock are women using TAMPONS.
EARLY SYMPTOMS OF TAMPON RELATED TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME Always begin AFTER a period starts. may include headache, and/or sore throat, aching muscles and high temperature. Followed by vomiting, watery diarrhoea, confusion and dizziness sometimes a red, sunburn-like, rash on chest, abdomen or thighs very low blood pressure.
Only one or two symptoms may occur.
They do not necessarily occur all at once and may not persist.
Please read the Case Studies page to see the variations.
IF TSS IS NOT TREATED IT CAN LEAD TO: respiratory distress organ failure coma cardiac arrest death
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO Remove the tampon (save it if possible). Seek IMMEDIATE medical attention (Preferably at an emergency HOSPITAL). Inform the doctor that you have been using TAMPONS, and it could be TOXIC SHOCK. Take a TSS information leaflet with you.
QUICK, POSITIVE ACTION MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE
AFTER-EFFECTS OF TSS
Survivors of Toxic Shock Syndrome may have been hospitalised for weeks and there is usually a long recovery period. They may have suffered:
Loss of fingers and toes due to gangrene. Permanent kidney and liver damage. Deafness and blindness. Peeling skin, particularly on palms and soles. Loss of nails and hair, which eventually grow back. Prone to infections for up to 2 years. Short term memory loss and lack of concentration. No energy for months or even years. Psychological and emotional distress. TO REDUCE THE RISK OF TSS Use the lowest absorbency needed at each stage of you period. Avoid using tampons continuously during a period. Alternate with sanitary towels, particularly at night. Use a towel at the end of your period. Change tampons every 4 to 6 hours. Don't use tampons if you've had any unusual discharge. Wash your hands before and after use and handle the tampon as little as possible. Alert your family and friends to the symptoms and emergency action required. Only use tampons made of organic cotton. Read and keep this information leaflet or the leaflet inside the tampon packet.
THE BACTERIA AND TOXIN Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are carried by most people on the skin or in the nose no matter how frequently we wash ourselves. They are usually quite harmless and can naturally migrate into the vagina. Certain strains of the bacteria can produce a toxin known as TSS-T1 when tampons are used. The vagina is a very susceptible place for RAPID absorption of toxin. The toxin gets into the bloodstream and overwhelms the body's immune system producing acute organ damage. Younger people are particularly at risk, as their immune system is not fully developed. WHAT CAUSES THE TOXIN? The bacteria in the vagina is usually harmless. Although the exact micro-biological reason for toxin production has not been established, it only happens in association with a tampon. It could be because the tampon introduces oxygen into the vagina, However, the tampon provides a surface for the bacteria to colonise. It is known that higher absorbency tampons containing man-made fibre are the highest risk Also, CONTINUOUS use of tampons during a period increases the risk.
SO, THE ONLY WAY OF AVOIDING TSS IS NOT TO USE TAMPONS.
INCIDENCE OF TSS
As tampon-related Toxic Shock Syndrome is not a notifiable disease in the UK, the official statistics rely on a voluntary notification scheme. These statistics are unreliable. However, from 1990 to 2000 it is believed that 22 deaths occurred in the UK due to TAMPONS.
Since millions of tampons are used in the UK each month, the disease is considered rare. However, it can strike any woman or girl without warning and can act so rapidly that more fatalities amongst tampon users is inevitable. So remember: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SAFE TAMPON!
Communication is essential. Health and safety information on leaflets should be read regularly to identify if any new, crucial information is presented. It is also vital that young girls should ensure that they discuss with their parent when they decide to use tampons. Somebody else should know when tampons are used so that prompt action can be taken if the sufferer is unable to help herself.
APPEAL TO TSS SUFFERERS
We would like to hear from any woman or girl who has suffered from any of the symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome whilst using TAMPONS.
Please follow this link to our contact details.