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What's TSS?

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What is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but serious systematic illness caused by a bacterial infection. It is caused when the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus gets into the bloodstream and produces toxins. Although toxic shock syndrome has been linked to superabsorbent tampon use, TSS can affect anyone - men, children, and people of all ages.

What Are The Toxic Shock Syndrome Symptoms?

Symptoms of TSS can feel a lot like the flu. TSS can rapidly progress from flu-like symptoms to a serious illness that can be fatal. If you start feeling sick, remove your tampon ASAP and make sure you get to a doctor and tell them you think you might have TSS.

Toxic Shock Syndrome symptoms are:

  • Sudden high temperature (102 degrees F/38.9 degrees C or higher)

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Sunburn-like rash

  • Muscle aches

  • Dizziness

  • Fainting or feeling faint when standing up

What Causes Toxic Shock Syndrome?

The bacterium that causes TSS is commonly found on the skin, in the nose, armpit, groin or vagina. In a very small number of people, certain strains of this organism produce a toxin that can cause TSS. Most people have antibodies in their bloodstream to protect them from these toxins.

Are Tampons Going To Give Me TSS?

TSS is not ‘caused’ by a tampon nor is the risk of developing TSS impacted by the ingredients in a tampon, whether 100% cotton, organic cotton, or a cotton/rayon blend. Tampon research also shows that the risk of tampon-related TSS is associated with absorbency: the higher the absorbency the higher the risk; the lower the absorbency the lower the risk. Just make sure you’re using the lowest absorbency necessary for your flow. Also, be sure to wear a pad from time to time during your period.

Can Anyone Get TSS?

Unfortunately, yes. TSS can affect men, women, children, anyone. Sometimes TSS comes from infections following insect bites, burns or surgery. To give you an idea, only about half of Toxic Shock Syndrome cases are from women using tampons.

Is TSS Contagious?

Nope. You can’t catch TSS from anyone else.

Is It Possible To Get TSS More Than Once?

Unfortunately, yes. And if you’ve had TSS in the past, you should consult your doctor before trying tampons.