Toxic shock syndrome, TSS


Toxic shock syndrome, TSS, is a complication that can occur in some bacterial infections. The bacteria secrete a venom that causes blood pressure to drop sharply and the body’s tissues do not get enough oxygen. TSS is very uncommon but can be serious and therefore you need to get treatment quickly.

TSS is sometimes called tampon disease because people who use tampon can get sick. However, most cases of TSS do not depend on tampon use.

Symptoms of TSS

Symptoms of TSS are that you quickly get a high fever and at the same time any of the following symptoms:

  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • redness or red eyes
  • swollen palms and soles of the feet
  • pain in the muscles
  • headache
  • dizziness and cold sweating
  • smelly floats if you use a tampon.

When and where should I seek care?

Seek medical attention directly at an emergency room if you suspect you have TSS. 

How does TSS occur?

TSS is caused by a poison produced by yellow staphylococcal bacteria. The bacteria can multiply if they come into contact with men’s blood in a tampon or blood in a wound for an extended period of time.

Most people get the disease in connection with a skin infection, for example, infection in the wound after surgery.

How can I reduce the risk of TSS from tampons?

You can prevent TSS from tampons:

  • Change the tampon at least every eighth hour.
  • Wash your hands carefully before changing the tampon.

The risk of getting TSS from using tampons is very small if you follow these tips. 


For a safe diagnosis, bacterial cultures are made from your blood and from any wounds. Your treatment must be started before you have a completely safe diagnosis.

Treatment for toxic shock syndrome

You are treated in hospitals, usually with antibiotics directly in the blood.

It is important that you understand the information

In order for you to be active in your care and to make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare personnel. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information printed so that you can read it peacefully.

You also have the right to get help from an interpreter if you have a hearing loss.

What happens in the body?

The poison that the yellow staphylococci produce causes the body to fall into a so-called shock state. This means that the blood pressure drops very much and that the body’s tissues do not get the oxygen they need.

Such a shock condition must be intensively treated with fluid and antibiotics as soon as possible in order for you to be able to recover.

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