TSS: A Potentially Serious Syndrome
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare, but potentially fatal syndrome that is commonly associated with tampon use. There are other ways to get TSS, 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.
TSS is caused by bacteria 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.
Look out for these 5 warning 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
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. This is a serious thing!
1. Rash (Hands/Feet)
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 seek medical help for this.
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 bacteria infecting and reproducing in your bloodstream.
4. Mental Confusion
TSS takes over your whole body because the bacteria 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 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, or you can’t seem to escape headaches with any amount of Tylenol or water, you might have TSS.
Headaches, like vomiting, is a symptom of many different illnesses. If you have headaches and other symptoms, seek a physician’s assistance.
Check with a Doctor
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.
Menstrual Cups: A Better Alternative
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.
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 menstrual 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! A menstrual cup is 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. See: Are Menstrual Cups Expensive?
Health. This is the most important one. We’ve already mentioned that you can’t get toxic shock syndrome from menstrual cups (no reported cases to date). 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 a menstrual cup out, check out our Top 5 Menstrual Cups for 2018.