BEING AWARE OF TSS

Tampons aren’t harmful – if used rightly, much like any other products. However, since it’s your vaginal health, and it is more sensitive than any other part of the body, we take extra care to ensure that we lay out the pros and cons, clearly.

So, once you’ve figured out what sizes suit your cycle the best, you must also know about TSS, which although rarely occurs, does have the probability of occurrence, purely due to ignorance of some facts – which we are about to demystify for you!

We know it sounds tragic – these words – Toxic shock syndrome (TSS), but we assure you it occurs very rarely. Although TSS is rare, it is a very serious health condition that can occur in men, women and children. In about a half of known cases, it has been associated with the use of tampons and affects a small number of women every year. In the rarest of the rare cases, TSS can also be fatal. If during your period you suddenly develop a strong fever, rashes, diarrhoea, sore throat or nausea, remove the tampon immediately and visit your doctor. Make sure to tell your doctor about TSS and that you were using a tampon on your period. The symptoms listed above can indicate TSS because they occur rapidly and resemble the flu. If you develop TSS, ask your doctor for advice on the further use of tampons.

But, what is TSS?

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is an illness that will make you feel severely ill very quickly and can become fatal if not treated.

What causes TSS?

TSS is caused by a toxin which is produced by a common bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus which normally live harmlessly on the skin and in the nose, armpit, groin or vagina of one in every three people.

How rare is TSS?

TSS is extremely rare and most doctors will never even see a case. In extreme cases it may prove fatal and statistics show that only about 2-3 per 100,000 per year die from TSS, which almost equals the probability of being stuck by a lightning!

Who can get TSS?

Anyone can get TSS – men, women and children. About half the reported cases of TSS are associated with women using tampons; half result from localised infections, for example following burns, boils, insect bites or following surgery. There is anecdotal information that the risk of TSS may be greater in children and young people because older people are more likely to have the necessary antibodies to protect them from the toxin that causes TSS.

How does TSS occur?

If the toxin is produced in the vagina or a wound and absorbed from there into the bloodstream, a person who is not resistant to the toxin may become ill. Most people, develop resistance to the toxin (hence, making it very rare) and in these people there is NO harmful effect. The symptoms of TSS may develop rapidly. Early recognition and treatment of these symptoms can usually prevent serious illness.

What are the symptoms of TSS?

Some of the symptoms of TSS are much like severe ‘flu’ and usually include some or all of the following:

A sudden rise in body temperature (102 degrees)

Vomiting

A sunburn-like rash

Diarrhoea

Dizziness

Muscle aches

Confusion

You may have one of these symptoms

What should I do if I have these symptoms?

Consult your doctor at once, if you or anyone you know, has some of these symptoms and suspect TSS. If you are wearing a tampon remove it and tell your doctor that you have been using tampons. Don’t worry about being alarmist – it is important to rule out the possibility of having TSS and if necessary your doctor will then be able to begin treatment early.

How are tampons and TSS linked?

The link between TSS and tampon use is unclear. Research in the 1980’s suggested that for cases which occurred in women using tampons, tampon absorbency was a factor. For this reason it is recommended that you:

– Always use a tampon with the lowest absorbency suitable for your period flow

– Use a sanitary towel or panty liner from time to time during your period

– Keep yourself updated about the information about TSS in the instruction leaflet. This information is often updated, so remember to read the leaflet regularly.

When using tampons, it is also important to remember to:

– wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon

– change tampons regularly, as often as directed on the pack

– never insert more than one tampon at a time

– when using at night, insert a fresh tampon before going to bed and remove it on waking

Do tampons cause TSS though?

The simple answer is NO. Tampons do not carry the bacteria which cause TSS. However, tampon use has been associated with an increased risk of TSS. Although TSS can occur with the use of tampons of any absorbency, the risk increases with the use of tampons of higher absorbency.

But unlike conventional tampons, Peach tampons do not contain any synthetic materials like rayon which is generally added to increase absorbency, therefore decreasing the risks of TSS and also preventing other infections like UTI, cystitis, mycoses and dysmenorrhoea. Please note that tampons are not sterile and neither are your hands or vagina. Tampons, while containing very small amounts of bacteria normally present in the air, have not been shown to carry the bacteria which causes Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

So bottom line, use a tampon – but know how and when to use it!


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