Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a severe acute disease that is caused by infection with strains of Staphylococcus aureus (phage group 1), which produces a unique toxin, enterotoxin F. TSS can affect anyone who has any type of staph infection, including pneumonia, abscess, skin or wound infection, a blood infection called septicemia, or a bone infection called osteomyelitis. While TSS was originally linked to the use of commercial tampons, it is now also known to be associated with the contraceptive sponge and diaphragm birth control methods. TSS can also result from wounds secondary to minor trauma or surgery incisions, where bacteria can possibly enter able the body and cause the infection. Some people might refer to TSS as an idiopathic disease, a disease that you get while visiting a hospital. TSS is a rare condition that, while most common in women, can also occur in men.
Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome
Symptoms of TSS tend to appear out of the blue and can vary from person to person. Common signs and symptoms can include:
- Sudden high fever
- Sore throat with swelling of the mucous membranes
- Redness of eyes
- Muscle Aches
Causes of Toxic Shock Syndrome
Most often, TSS occurs when bacteria enter an opening in the skin, such as an open sore, cut, or other wound. Even though the streptococcus bacteria cause TSS, the condition does not typically occur after a simple streptococcus throat infection (commonly referred to as Strep Throat). The tampon theory originated from the fact that some believe that tampons attract bacteria, primarily because they are left in one place for a long time. Another theory is that the fibers from tampons scratch the vagina, which ultimately creates an opening for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Possible causes include:
- Bacteria entering through wounds
- Having had recent surgery
- Using contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, or super absorbent tampons
- Having a viral infections (such as flu or chickenpox)
- The vagina is a breathing organ. It must breathe, but when you frequently wear tight clothing, including tight underwear, tight jeans, and tight yoga pants, you smother the vagina and the lack of oxygen results in vaginal atrophy. It is recommended that you find a nice balance between tight and loose clothing. Five percent of all cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome are fatal. However, the case fatality rates for menstrual-related TSS have declined as awareness has improved. Try to wear cotton clothing items that breathe!
- Whenever you have any sort of open wound, it is important to properly take care of it. Make sure to regularly clean your wound, cut, or scrape and try to prevent bacteria from entering it. TSS can occur if streptococcus bacteria enter wounds, so be mindful of your surroundings and exercise proper wound care.
- Try to consume a lot of foods that are rich in probiotics. Probiotics can help to boost your immune system and promote healthy gut flora. Having a strong and healthy immune system can help your body naturally combat the bacteria in the body. Some of the best probiotics to eat include kimchi, fermented vegetables, kefir, natto, and miso.
- Several studies have shown that there is a link between low vitamin D levels and increased occurrence of infections. Certain immune cells actually have vitamin D receptors and metabolizers, which means that increasing your vitamin D levels can have a positive effect on the immune system.
- As a woman, it is important to have optimal menstruation maintenance. While the decision to use or not use tampons or pads is entirely up to each woman, we recommend tampon or pad alternatives such as Goddess Moons, cloth pads, Wemoon, or Natracare products. It may also be more beneficial to use chlorine-free pads instead of tampons.
- As always, it is beneficial to make a dietary change when trying to rid bacteria from the body. Eating things like meat, dairy products, added sugars, salt, unhealthy grains, and genetically modified foods can make it hard for your immune system to function optimally. Give your body the foods that it needs by eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, and legumes.