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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Alternate Names : TSS

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, is a rare, potentially life-threatening disorder. It occurs when toxins made by certain types of bacteria are released into the bloodstream.

What is going on in the body?

Toxic shock syndrome was first described in children in 1978. Experts quickly realized it happened more often among women who used superabsorbent tampons during their periods. TSS is triggered by toxins made by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The toxins cause a high fever and can damage the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Experts believe that tampons may block bacteria within the vagina. The moist, humid environment allows them to grow and produce high levels of toxins. Tampons can cause very small cuts in the vagina during insertion. These small cuts allow bacteria and their toxins to enter the bloodstream. About 70% of TSS cases have been related to certain brands of highly absorbent tampons that are no longer made.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Following is a list of certain factors that increase a woman's chances of getting TSS:

  • being between the ages of 12 and 30
  • having recently delivered a baby
  • having recently had surgery
  • leaving a diaphragm or cervical cap in the vagina for more than 36 hours
  • wearing the same tampon for longer than 8 hours


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    Toxic Shock Syndrome: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eva Martin, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 06/06/01

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