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How do you Know if you Have TSS?
If you suspect that you have toxic shock syndrome from a tampon or menstrual cup, do you have any of these symptoms? Check out our quick guide to see if you have it.
Do I have TSS? Check these Symptoms:
- GI issues that come on suddenly
- Reddness (near eyes, throat, or mouth)
- Mental confusion
- Aches and pains
- Sudden high fever
- Abnormally low blood pressure
- Are you using a tampon or menstrual cup? Menstruating women are at a higher risk.
- Yes? Have you left in these products for longer than the recommended time?
Here are Some of the Possible Causes
Some of the risk factors to be aware of include:
- Used tampons, a menstrual cup, diaphragm, or contraceptive sponge?
- Gotten a but or burn?
- Had surgery?
- Had a viral infection (flu or chickenpox)?
- Given birth?
- In any other way, inserted something into your body, or gotten a cut on you skin?
Did you Answer Yes to Something from Both Lists?
If you have any of the symptoms from the first list, and have done any of the things from the second, it’s possible you may have TSS. Consult with a doctor
If you’re on your period, and are using tampons or a menstrual cup, and have any of these symptoms, immediately remove whatever is inside of you. Then, consult a medical professional (doctor, or something like a nurse’s help line in your city).
Do I have TSS Quiz
You can take this quiz to find out if you have Toxic Shock Syndrome. Remember this important fact: we are not doctors.
If there is any question in your mind whether or not you have this dangerous condition, consult a doctor. We know a lot about menstrual cups, and next to nothing about this medical condition
If you’ve found your way to this page because you’re worried about having Toxic Shock Syndrome, just go see a doctor, okay? Good. Go now please.
Toxic Shock Syndrome can cause organ failure and even death
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How Long Does it Take to Get TSS?
A common question question that people have is how long it takes to get it when using tampons, or after something like surgery, childbirth, or an abortion.
With something like surgery, you’ll usually notice the symptoms much sooner, sometimes within 12 hours. However, when using a menstrual cup or tampons, it may take longer, even up to five days.
That said, those are just general guidelines and everyone is different! More details here:
A Potentially Serious Syndrome
Do I have TSS? It’s a scary, real thing that people who use tampons or menstrual cups need to aware of.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare, but potentially fatal syndrome that is commonly associated with tampon use. There are other ways to get it, but tampons cause the majority of the cases.
While it still only affects a few hundred American women a year, it is a very serious problem for those it does affect.
Caused by Staphylococcus Aureus
TSS is caused by Staphylococcus Aureus and these bacteria love the nutrient rich womb of a menstruating person. This causes the bacteria to multiply rapidly and you can go from feeling fine one minute to quite sick an hour later.
Is TSS contagious? No, it’s not possible to contract it from someone else.
5 TSS Warning Signs
Look out for these 5 signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome during your period. Or, consider making the switch to a menstrual cup, which replaces tampons and comes without the risk of TSS. They’re also cheaper, better for the environment and have a whole more health benefits besides no risk of TSS.
Related: Check out These Top TSS Myths
Take your Tampon Out ASAP
And before we get into the top 5 symptoms, don’t forget to just take out your tampon if you suspect toxic shock syndrome. The longer you keep it in, the worse it will get! Put on a pad in the meantime, and consult with a doctor or go to the hospital.
Tampons are certainly one of the risk factors for getting this condition.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is a serious thing! We repeat: take out your tampon, and seek medical help immediately. Go to the emergency room if necessary. Even an hour or two can make a big difference.
Can it Kill You?
If you think you have TSS, stop what you’re doing and immediately go to the hospital. Yes, that means you should stop reading this content.
The key is to go to a doctor as soon as you suspect there might be a problem. The longer you wait to get help for suspected TSS, the greater the change of things like organ failure.
The good news is that the majority of people who get TSS do recover from it within 7-10 days. The key is to seek prompt medical attention to prevent major damage to your organs.
However, 3% of people who contract it will die from it. It can result in a range of other deadly problems including, liver kidney or heart failure if not treated. Some people also go into shock due to reduced blood flow through their body.
How do you know if you have Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)? Check out these signs and symptoms below. Please note that your illness can deteriorate very quickly, so be sure to seek help as soon as possible.
1. TSS Sign: Rash (Hands/Feet)
Here are a few quick facts about TSS rash:
- Appears suddenly
- Can cover most of the body
- Red, sunburn like rash
- Flat, not raised
- If pressed, it turns white
- The rash may be difficult to see in dark-skinned people
- Eyes, lips and tongue may also appear to be red
- TSS rash can also be found on the palms of the feet, and soles of the hands
- Muscles aches
- Dangerously low blood pressure (severe cases)
Check out this picture of TSS rash from tampons:
If you’re seeing a rash suddenly appear, that can be alarming. If it looks suspiciously like a sunburn and is appearing on your palms and soles, this is a definite warning sign that you might potentially have a serious problem.
Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you see a rash taking over your body. This is probably good advice, whether or not you suspect it’s related to tampon use! The rash will likely be flat, not raised in any way. If you press the rash and it turns white, this is a sign of TSS.
A rash all over your body is a very common symptom and a signal to get help. Likely you’ll start to experience peeling and scaling in the areas that have the rash. Don’t expect it to just go away—it probably won’t. Please get help for this.
TSS without a rash? It is possible. Yes! This list of symptoms is just a quick reference. It will look different for everybody, and it is possible to get it and not have a rash.
What Happens When you Leave your Tampon in for Too Long
2. GI Issues That Come on Suddenly
If you’re experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, there are a lot of potential problems that you might have. Some are serious, some are not. But if you need these issues arise in tandem with one of the other symptoms, contact a medical professional because it might be more serious than just the regular stomach flu.
3. Redness (near Eyes, Throat + Mouth)
If you notice a sudden redness surrounding your eyes and mouth and a tingle in your throat, take note. Redness under the eyes is a common symptom of TSS. Redness and rashes on your body are due to staph infecting and reproducing in your bloodstream.
4. Mental Confusion
TSS takes over your whole body because the bacteria (staph in particular) enters your bloodstream. As your brain is a part of your body, it’s common for your mind to be affected when you’re sick.
Confusion, dizziness, and a feeling of being disoriented will appear when the central nervous system is under attack. A high fever is an extremely common symptom of TSS and fevers are well known to cause difficulty in critical thinking.
5. General Aches and Pains
If it seems like you’re sore all over and have some serious muscle aches, you may have TSS. Or, if you can’t seem to escape headaches with any amount of Tylenol or water, you might have it as well.
Headaches, like vomiting, is a symptom of many different illnesses. If you have headaches and other symptoms, seek a physician’s assistance.
What the the Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome?
What is the Treatment?
You may wonder about what the treatment is for TSS. The good news is that there are usually positive outcomes if it’s caught early enough. Here’s what you need to know about treatment:
- Multi-day hospital stays are very common. In some cases, you’ll be sick enough to be in the IUC.
- The treatment usually involves one or more antibiotics.
- Also treatments will also depend on the symptoms that you have. You may have oxygen, IV fluids, pain meds, or kidney dialysis.
- Most people receive 6-8 weeks of antibiotics to take at home, following their hospital stay.
How to Diagnose It
The first step in diagnosing TSS is a physical exam and symptoms. Your doctor may also do a blood test to check on kidney and living functioning. Toxic Shock Syndrome is sometimes confirmed by a blood or urine test (for traces of Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria).
Can TSS Cure Itself?
Okay, so you have some of the signs and symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome, but perhaps you don’t have medical insurance and you wonder if it might go away on its own.
NO! TSS is a life-threatening medical emergency. People can die from it. Please go to the hospital because you need immediate medical assistance.
If TSS is left untreated, the following things may happen:
- Liver or kidney failture
- Heart failure
Increased TSS Risk if you’ve Had it Once
The bad news is that if you’ve had one case of TSS, you’re at a higher risk for a subsequent case of it. The risk is approximately 30% higher.
Keep a close eye out for symptoms in the future. Consider going an even shorter than the recommended time.
Or, perhaps switch to pads and avoid this risk altogether?
What about Menstrual Cups and TSS?
A common question that people have is about menstrual cups, including the Diva Cup and toxic shock syndrome. Is it possible to get TSS from one? Is the risk higher, or lower with a menstrual cup than a tampon.
Let’s talk numbers.
To date, there has been one reported case of Toxic Shock Syndrome caused by the Diva Cup. It happened because the person cut themselves when inserting the Diva Cup at the beginning of their period. Days later, they developed TSS.
There are hundreds of cases of it from tampons each year. Of course, there are also far more tampon users than menstrual cup users, so please consider this.
There are a few things you can do to prevent Toxic Shock Syndrome from one. They include:
- Removing, cleaning, and then reinserting it frequently. 12 hours is the absolute maximum, even if you have a light flow.
- Washing your hands with soap before inserting them into your vagina, or handling your cup.
- Use soap to clean your cup each time you remove it. Rinse the soap residue off well.
- Boil your cup between periods for 5 minutes in a pot on the stove to sterilize it.
- If you cut yourself when inserting or removing your period cup, do not keep using it. Wear sanitary pads (change them frequently) until your body heals.
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Risk of TSS from Tampons? Low
The overall risk of TSS from tampons is actually quite low. This is especially true if you have take basic precautions like changing your tampon frequently enough, and using the lowest absorbency possible.
However, it appears that the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome from menstrual cups is lower than with tampons. Of course, more research is needed!
Check with a Doctor if you Suspect Toxic Shock Syndrome
If you’re still wondering whether you have TSS, don’t be afraid to contact a physician. It’s better to be safe than sorry; TSS is such a dangerous syndrome that requires immediate medical attention.
Go to the ER if you can’t get an immediate appointment with your doctor. It is a very serious thing!
If you suspect that you have this, DO NOT delay seeking medical treatment. Even a couple hours can make a big difference. In severe cases, your blood pressure can drop dangerously low, and your organs can begin to shut down.
A Better Alternative to Tampons
Are you tired of using tampons? Many people are. They’re expensive, not great for the environment and it might feel like you’re always running to the store to buy more. Then it’s time to consider making the switch to a menstrual cup. Keep on reading to find out more.
We have some good news to finish off this article—there is an alternative to tampons that come without the risk of toxic shock syndrome. Menstrual cups are bell-shaped cylinders that are inserted into the vaginal canal and are designed to collect menstrual fluid.
The top-quality ones (avoid the cheap ones from China) are usually made from medical grade silicone, which is approved by the FDA. They have a very long history of safe use, and to date, there is only one reported case of toxic shock syndrome caused by a menstrual cup (compared to thousands of cases with tampons).
Why Make the Switch?
There are a few reasons why you might want to consider using a menstrual cup instead of tampons:
Environment. Disposable pads and tampons create a lot of waste that goes to the landfill. A single cup, with proper care and cleaning can last for up to 10 years. And they can often by recycled. That’s good news for our Earth!
Money. Think about all those pads and tampons—they’re expensive! It’s a bit more expensive in the very short-term, but you’ll have years of savings down the road. It’s a price that I’m certainly willing to pay—most of the good ones are around $20-30.
Health. This is the most important one. We’ve already mentioned that it’s very rare to get toxic shock syndrome from period cups (one reported case to date).
That one case happened because the person cut themselves when inserting their cup (the Diva Cup) at the beginning of their period.
You can also avoid exposure to chemicals and pesticides that are in non-organic disposable pads and tampons.
Get a Menstrual Cup
If you want to try one out, check out our Top 5 Menstrual Cups for 2019.
Use Tampons? Here’s how to Reduce your Risk of TSS
A few basic precautions will go a long way towards reducing your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome from using tampons. Here are a few of them:
- Change your tampon frequently enough (8 hours max)
- Use ultra-absorbent tampons cautiously (only on your very heaviest flow day)
- Wash your hands before handling a tampon
- Keep tampon cool and dry to discourage bacteria growth on them (not in the bathroom)
- Consider switching to a menstrual cup or pads.
TSS can usually be prevented by following these simple rules listed above. Please use tampons cautiously and conservatively.
These days, around 1 in 100,000 will get Toxic Shock Syndrome in a year. It is rare and not something that you should be losing sleep over. However, some basic precautions must be taken, especially with tampon use.
Can I Wear Tampons Overnight?
It’s something that many people do—wear a tampon when they’re sleeping, but it’s not really recommended. The reason for this is that the maximum amount of time you should wear a tampon is 8 hours.
So unless you put a fresh one in right before you go to bed, don’t sleep more than 8 hours, and then change it right when you get up, it’s not advisable to wear a tampon at night.
Sure, I can do this, you might be thinking to yourself. Everyone has good intentions, but people sleep in, lounge around in bed, and then forget about their tampon in the morning if it’s not leaking (at the end of your period for example)
Consider pads (no real time limit for them) or a menstrual cup (12 hour maximum) in order to increase your margin of safety. As an added bonus, menstrual cups have a capacity 3-4x more than even a jumbo tampon so you might be able to sleep through the night of your heaviest flow. Kind of amazing!
I Forget about my Tampon for 2 Days: Is this Terrible?
It’s sometimes an easy thing to do. At the end of your period, you may forget that you have a tampon in there and leave it in a for way longer than the recommended time. That’s 8 hours for a tampon. Will you get Toxic Shock Syndrome? Leaving a tampon in for too long certainly is a risk factor for contracting TSS. However, it’s still quite rare, even in these cases.
Usually the worst that will happen is that you’ll have a really stinky cup or tampon on your hands when you take it out.
That said, leaving something in for too long does certainly increase your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, so be careful with this.
First Signs of TSS from Tampons
Okay, so you might want to know what the first signs of TSS from tampons are. There isn’t one definitive answer we can give you.
Toxic Shock Syndrome, from whatever source will have the same symptoms, treatment and outcomes.
Secondly, it looks different for each person. What initial symptom(s) one person has may look entirely different from another person.
It’s for these reasons that we can’t really answer your question, “What are the first signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome from tampons?”
What’s the Deal with Rely Tampons and TSS?
Have you heard of Rely tampons? They were a new brand of super-absorbent tampons released by Proctor & Gamble starting in 1978 in the U.S.
The testing period was a bit controversial with mixed results, but Rely Tampons were released as women demanded a super-absorbent tampons that could handle a heavier flow without having to chance them as often.
Rely Tampons were unique in their materials. Unlike most other tampons made from cotton and rayon, they were made from carbomethylcellulopse and compressed polyester for absorption.
It could hold an impressive 20x it’s weight in fluid. Another selling point was that Rely Tampons would blossom into the shape of the vagina for maximum protection against leaking.
The major problem with Rely Tampons is that they caused severe vaginal dryness by absorbing just about everything. This led to abrasions in the vaginal walls when removed. As you might guess, these abrasions offered excellent pathways for harmful bacteria to enter into the bloodstream.
In 1980, Rely Tampons were recalled upon a release of a report from the CDC that associated Rely Tampons with more cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome than any other brand. Since the 1980’s tampons are now more heavily regulated by the FDA and cases of TSS have dropped dramatically.
What about with a Sanitary Pad?
Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by a certain type of bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes) that grow and release toxins into your bloodstream. People (men and women) can get Toxic Shock Syndrome from anything inserted into their vagina, a bug bite, skin infection, or surgical incision.
But, can you get Toxic Shock Syndrome from a sanitary pad? In theory, it’s perhaps possible. Maybe you have a cut of some kind on your labia. Then, if you put on a pad, and leave it there for days, there may be enough harmful bacteria there to enter into your bloodstream through that cut.
However, nobody leaves a sanitary pad on for more than 8 or 10 hours. They start to smell, and also get soggy and gross. Take the same basic precautions with pads, as you would with tampons, and your risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome from pads will be almost non-existent.
TSS: Not Just from Tampons
Some important information to keep in mind is that staph/bacterial infections aren’t only caused by tampons. You can get this disease from burns, cuts, after surgery, or childbirth, etc. Keep this in mind if you’re experiencing some unusual symptoms like muscles aches and pains, rashes, etc.
It can happen to someone at any age, including children.
Toxic Shock Syndrome: Have your Say!
What precautions do you take when using tampons in order to prevent TSS? How do you know if you have it? What’s the symptom that helped you figure it out.
Leave a comment below and let us know. Also be sure to give this content a share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Please note: this article is intended for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. If you suspect that you have Toxic Shock Syndrome, please see a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis.
Last update on 2019-11-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API