Do Sanitary Pads Cause Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Toxic Shock Syndrome is a condition that is rare but has quite many myths revolving around it. Once in a while, every one of us must have read or heard stories about TSS or Toxic Shock Syndrome as being a deadly disease that is associated with reproductive women who are having their periods. However, this is not the case. Toxic shock syndrome can develop in males, children and even non-menstrual women too.
This potentially life-threatening condition can occur due to many reasons such as burns, gynaecological procedures, surgical operations, unhygienic usage of menstrual cups or tampons, skin bruises, nasal packing, etc., anything that can lead to bacterial growth and isn’t taken care of timely. If due diligence is not given to this condition, it can cause heart, liver, or lungs failure and further, it may lead to sepsis, amputation of limbs and septic shock.
How do you get toxic shock syndrome?
Today’s article focuses on what causes toxic shock syndrome in women. We will discuss– Is using tampons, sanitary napkins or menstrual cups safe for you? What measures should you take to prevent yourself from getting toxic shock syndrome? What are the symptoms you should look out for? and much more.
First, we will start by discussing the causes of Toxic Shock Syndrome and then we will move on to the symptoms.
Causes of Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome is a disease occurring due to bacterial growth that further leads to the release of toxins. The three main culprits for causing Toxic Shock Syndrome are streptococcus pyogenes, staphylococcus aureus, and clostridium sordelli. On the surface, these are the harmless bacterias that thrive on our skins without causing any damage until they penetrate deeper, thus causing the release of toxic agents. This might happen due to the open wound, or surgical procedure or even if you are using a super-absorbent tampon that has not been changed on time. However, these are not the sole causes of toxic shock syndrome.
One might also get Toxic Shock Syndrome from using a contraceptive cap, menstrual cups, after childbirth, post-surgery wounds, boil, skin lesions, viral infections, burns, chickenpox, etc. Although toxic shock syndrome is not a communicable disease, a person does have a chance of getting it even after they have recovered from it previously as there is no immunity development for such kind of bacterial infections.
Now that we have learned what leads to Toxic Shock Syndrome, here we have listed down some of the known symptoms on which you should keep an eye so that you can timely get yourself treated.
Signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome
TSS or toxic shock syndrome’s symptoms can arise suddenly without any warning and can turn worse in no time. Subject to the source of the infection, there are quite many signs you should be looking out for, such as:
- Suddenly spiked a high fever
- Low blood pressure
- Sudden rise in body temperature
- Trouble breathing
- Sore throat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Serious headache
- Tongue turning bright red
- Mental confusion
- Peeling of the skin
- Red dots or sunburn type rashes on the skin
- Flu-like symptoms
Can you get Toxic Shock Syndrome from sanitary pads, menstrual cups or tampons?
We are going to start this section’s talk with the most popular product among us, that is, sanitary pads. To date, many of us are comfortable in using sanitary napkins during our monthly cycles and would like to stick with our choice in the future. But after reading this article, many of us must be thinking if we could possibly get the TSS by using sanitary pads. So thankfully the answer to this question is ‘No’. As with pads, we can easily maintain our menstrual hygiene, there aren’t many cases arising out of usage of pads. Nonetheless, if you do not change your sanitary pads within four to six hours then you might get a vaginal infection, urinary tract infection or inflammable rashes.
Now comes the menstrual cups. With increasing popularity, many of us are inclining towards the usage of menstrual cups as they are the ‘earth saver’. But the TSS horror stories might lead some to take a step back. So to clear your doubts we would like to bring to your notice that although researches have been done to prove bacterial growth, it was not done on humans, but inside plastic bags. Another thing, they are unlikely to cause any damage because they are easy to insert and do not cause wear and tear of skin from where the bacteria can sink into your bloodstream and the product used to manufacture menstrual cups is silicon which is flexible, thus it does not break or tear, leaving behind any pieces inside your body. So technically there isn’t any proof that menstrual cups are to be blamed. However, always keep in mind that menstrual hygiene is the most important thing and you should not forget to rinse your cups every ten to twelve hours.
The third widely used menstruation product is the tampon. Do tampons cause toxic shock syndrome? Let’s find out.
TSS is common among women who are in the childbearing stage and make use of super-absorbent tampons. Although the cases are one in 100,000, one can not look over the fact that women are thrice at risk as compared to men and it can occur with minute negligence in hygiene level. Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome from tampons are almost the same as mentioned above but they might be mistaken as stomach flu, the flu or cold. To prevent getting toxic shock syndrome from tampons, take these steps:
- Avoid using tampons during nighttime
- During lighter period days, use low absorbency tampons
- Change tampons every six to eight hours
- You can even switch to cloth pads, period underwear, organic pads, etc.
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) diagnoses
To diagnose if one has TSS or not, you have to undergo some blood tests to cancel viral or bacterial infections as they possess the same symptoms as the toxic shock syndrome. If this case arises with the person with skin or wound infection, then tissue cultures are collected from that area.
For women, if there is a possibility of vaginal infection, then the culture is collected from the vaginal area and there they might even have the vaginal examination.
Prevention from Toxic Shock Syndrome
- Do not forget to wash your hands before and after using any menstrual product.
- Switch to panty liners or pads.
- Remember to remove the tampon after you have finished menstruating.
- If you have suffered from TSS earlier, then avoid using tampons as it can recur at any time.
- Go for the lowest absorbency even if you have to change it multiple times.
- Five to eight hours is the maximum stretching time for using a single tampon.
- Do not try to experiment with more than one tampon at a time.
- Pick sanitary napkins for night usage.
- Female barrier contraception should be handled with caution and the steps are to be followed.
- Barrier contraception usage time limit should never be extended.
Treatment toxic shock syndrome
This condition should not be taken lightly as it is potentially a life-threatening medical condition. Anyone who is suffering from acute symptoms of any kind must be taken to the hospital on time so that the further process of removing a contraceptive device or tampon could be carried on. Most probably antibiotics will be given for bacterial growth control and in more severe cases infusions of intravenous immune globulins might be needed.
Well Wisher’s Words
If you or someone you know shows any symptoms related to the Toxic Shock Syndrome and in any possible way you suspect it to be TSS then do not wait for long. Visit your nearest hospital or a clinic and get the right treatment before it’s too long. Your health should always be your priority!