What is TSS and how do you overcome it?

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While most women dread that time of the month, a varied range of sanitary protection aims to make us more comfortable and suit our active lifestyles. However, the improper use of tampons can also be life-threatening. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare bacterial infection that can develop in anyone, including children, through burns or skin injuries. Research shows that half of about 40 cases reported each year are associated with women using tampons. Next month, National Tampon Alert Week will aim to raise awareness of the dangers. It is believed that if a tampon is left in the vagina for too long, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. If left untreated, this can lead to damage tissue and disturb many vital organ functions. Treatment usually entails a combination of antibiotics administered into the bloodstream. “I experienced vomiting, diarrhoea, myalgia, high temperature, sore throat, a sunburn-like rash and low blood pressure,” shares Katie Gotham, 16. “I felt more tired than usual, and the skin on my hands and feet started peeling. The second time I fell ill with TSS, it was diagnosed straightaway. I stopped using tampons, and after being ill a third time I was treated with human immunoglobulin and antibiotics. My illness seemed to be menstrually related; it was quite embarrassing to tell people that tampons related to my illness. Now, I don’t use tampons or any intra-vaginal devices.” Although TSS is not widely spoken about, it is important to visit your GP if you suspect you have the symptoms.

Symptoms of TSS
• Aching muscles
and a temperature above 38.9ºC

• Evidence of three or more of your organs affected
by infection

• Headache and/or sore throat

• Confusion and dizziness

• Sometimes a red, sunburn-like rash
on chest, abdomen or thighs
• Diarrhoea and fainting

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