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Toxic Shock Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment & Outlook

  • Synopsis: Published: 2015-04-23 - Information regarding Toxic shock syndrome including treatment methods and symptoms experienced. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World at Disabled World.
Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a potentially fatal illness caused by a bacterial toxin. Different bacterial toxins may cause toxic shock syndrome, depending on the situation. Streptococcal TSS is sometimes referred to as toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS) or streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS). The severity of this disease frequently warrants hospitalization.

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Quote: "The signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome can also include a rash that resembles a sunburn, especially on the affected person's palms and soles. They may include redness of the person's mouth, throat and eyes as well."

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare and life-threatening complication of some types of bacterial infections. Often times, toxic shock syndrome results from toxins produced Staphylococcus aureus or, 'staph,' bacteria. The condition might also be caused by toxins produced by group A streptococcus or, 'strep,' bacteria. The syndrome historically has been associated with the use of super-absorbent tampons.

Yet since manufacturers pulled certain types of tampons from the market, the incidence of toxic shock syndrome in menstruating women has declined. Toxic shock syndrome can affect children, postmenopausal women, as well as men. The risk factors for toxic shock syndrome include surgery and skin wounds.

'Toxic Shock-Like,' Syndrome

A different yet similar condition may result in toxins produced by the group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacterium. It is at times referred to as, 'streptococcal toxic shock syndrome,' or, 'toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS). It occurs when bacteria of this type are present in parts of a person's body where bacteria are usually not found. For example; it would be unusual to find this type of bacteria in a person's muscles, blood, or their lungs.

The symptoms and treatment for this syndrome are almost identical to the ones for toxic shock syndrome. TSLS; however, is not associated with the use of tampons. People who are at increased risk for a GAS infection are also more likely to develop TSLS. A person's risk might be increased if they:

  • Have diabetes
  • Are an alcoholic
  • Have chickenpox
  • Have undergone surgery

Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Some different signs and symptoms are associated with toxic shock syndrome. These signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Low blood pressure
  • A sudden high fever

The signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome can also include a rash that resembles a sunburn, especially on the affected person's palms and soles. They may include redness of the person's mouth, throat and eyes as well. It is important for you to contact a doctor promptly if you experience signs or symptoms of toxic shock syndrome. It is particularly important if the person has recently used tampons, or if they have a skin or wound infection.

Risk factors for Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome can affect anyone. Approximately 50% of the instances of toxic shock syndrome happen in women who are menstruating. The rest happen in children, men, and women who are older. Toxic shock syndrome has been associated with the following:

  • A recent surgery
  • Cuts or burns on a person's skin
  • A viral infection such as chickenpox or the flu
  • Use of contraceptive sponges, super-absorbent tampons, or diaphragms

Toxic shock syndrome has the potential to rapidly progress. It may include complications such as renal failure, shock, or even death.

Tests and Diagnosing Toxic Shock Syndrome

No one, single test exists for toxic shock syndrome. A person might need to provide urine and blood samples in order to test for the presence of a strep or staph infection. A woman's cervix, vagina and throat may be swabbed for samples a laboratory can analyze.

Due to the fact that toxic shock syndrome can affect multiple organs, a doctor might order other tests. These tests may include a chest X-ray, a CT scan, or a lumbar puncture. The tests help a doctor to assess the extent of the person's illness.

Treating Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome comprises a medical emergency. A number of people with toxic shock syndrome find themselves hospitalized. Some people have to stay in an intensive care unit for several days so medical personnel can monitor them closely. The person's doctor will probably prescribe an intravenous antibiotic - a drug that will help the affected person to fight the bacterial infection in their body.

Additional treatment methods for toxic shock syndrome differ depending upon the underlying cause. For example; if a vaginal sponge or tampon triggered toxic shock - a doctor might need to remove the object from the woman's body. If an open wound or surgical wound caused toxic shock syndrome, a doctor will drain blood or pus from the wound with the goal of helping to clear up any infection.

Other possible treatment methods for toxic shock syndrome include IV fluids to combat dehydration, medication to stabilize the person's blood pressure, as well as gamma globulin injections to suppress inflammation and boost the person's immune system. Surgery might be needed in order to remove non-living tissue from the site of infection, or to drain the infection.

Outlook for Toxic Shock Syndrome

As mentioned - toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening medical condition. The fact is, this condition is deadly in up to half of those affected. In some instances, toxic shock syndrome may affect major organs in a person's body. If it is left untreated, complications associated with this disease can occur. The complications of toxic shock syndrome can include:

  • Shock
  • Liver failure
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure

Signs of Liver Failure: The signs of liver failure may include nausea, vomiting, confusion, sleepiness, upper abdominal pain, or jaundice.

Signs of Heart Failure: The signs of heart failure may include chest pain, heart palpitations, coughing, wheezing, a lack of appetite, fatigue, an inability to concentrate, shortness of breath and weakness.

Signs of Kidney Failure: The signs of kidney failure can include fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, hiccups, chest pain, persistent itching, high blood pressure, swelling in the feet and ankles, difficulties with urinating, as well as issues with sleeping.

Preventing Toxic Shock Syndrome

Manufacturers of tampons sold in the United States of America no longer use the designs or materials that were associated with toxic shock syndrome. The Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to use standard measurements and labeling for absorbency and to print guidelines on the boxes. If you use tampons, read the labels and use the lowest absorbency tampon you are able to. Change tampons often - at least every four to eight hours.

Alternate using tampons and sanitary napkins. Use mini-pads when your flow is light. Toxic shock syndrome is something that can recur. People who have experienced it once can indeed get it again. If you have had toxic shock syndrome, or a prior serious strep or staph infection, do not use tampons at all.

Learn More About Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome
www.emedicinehealth.com/toxic_shock_syndrome/article_em.htm

About Toxic Shock Syndrome
kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/toxic_shock.html

Toxic Shock Syndrome and Tampons
www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/toxic_shock_syndrome.html

Facts: Toxic Shock Syndrome - Quick

  • The main cause of TSS is a strain of staph, the bacterium Staphylococcus Aureus.
  • Women who have their period (are menstruating) are most likely to get TSS, as it is thought to be associated with tampon use.
  • Symptoms of TSS occur suddenly: a high fever (102 degree F, 38.8 degree C or higher), vomiting, diarrhea, a sunburn-like rash, red eyes, dizziness, lightheadedness, muscle aches and drops in blood pressure, which may cause fainting.
  • TSS can occasionally develop as a complication after surgery or childbirth. A few cases of the syndrome have been reported in men who were also found to have staphylococcal infections of the skin.
  • With proper treatment, patients usually recover in several weeks. However the condition can be fatal within hours.

Related Information:

  1. Necrotizing Fasciitis - Information Symptoms and Treatment - Thomas C. Weiss - (2013-05-21)
    https://www.disabled-world.com/health/dermatology/skin/necrotizing-fasciitis.php


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