The toxic shock associated with the use of sanitary pads

Toxic shock syndrome is caused by a bacterial toxin that usually proliferates in humid environments. The consequences can be fatal if the problem is not identified in time.

Toxic shock syndrome is not a new condition , but despite efforts to avoid it, it continues to cause numerous deaths around the world.

The Toxic shock is a severe illness caused by certain toxins that are derived from the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus , whose proliferation is linked to the use of pads or feminine hygiene products.

While not a common ailment, the number of cases has increased in recent years, many with rather serious consequences.

One of the cases that has attracted attention is that of the American model Lauren Wasser , who lost a leg due to this disease linked to the use of tampons.

The young woman has waged a legal battle against Kotex Natural Balance , which accuses the infection that nearly cost her her life.

Although many assure that less than half the cases of toxic shock syndrome related to the use of sanitary pads , prevention is continued to avoid it.

What is toxic shock syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome (SST) is a serious, sometimes fatal disease caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes , whose abnormal proliferation produces a toxin that can lead to septicemia. 

It can affect anyone, but the first cases are related to women who used tampons during their period .

It was discovered around 1980 by Philip Tierno and his team. They showed that the development of this disease is related to the favorable conditions that synthetic materials offer to bacteria.

Many of these materials are now banned on the market, but the disease continues to be a problem and the cases in question are increasing.

It should be remembered that most cases of SST are also linked to other conditions, such as certain surgeries, and not just the use of tampons during menstruation .

Why is the use of tampons associated with toxic shock syndrome?

At the moment there is no definite explanation regarding the relationship between the use of sanitary pads and the onset of toxic shock syndrome, although the main evidence is the numerous cases identified in recent decades.

Bacteriologists and infectious disease experts suggest that, given the absorbency of these products and their location within the vagiena, the sestafilococos bacterium increases toxin production because it finds a suitable environment to proliferate.

What’s more, this allows for a higher concentration of oxygen in the area, which increases the risk of infection.

For this reason, it is advisable to use the product in question following safety measures and make sure that the degree of absorption achieved is always the minimum.

Under no circumstances should the same tampon be used for more than eight hours.

What are the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome?

The most common symptoms experienced by people with this syndrome begin with a general malaise accompanied by high fever, confusion and nausea.

As the syndrome progresses, the blood pressure drops , skin conditions are altered and are recurrent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea .

As the syndrome worsens rapidly, it can lead to serious consequences such as kidney, liver or heart failure.

If not treated properly, it can lead to death.

What is the proper treatment?

In general, the treatment involves the administration of fluids and antibiotics capable of curbing the production of the toxin .

Drugs are used to restore the patient’s vital condition, including drugs to control hypotension, supportive care, or fluid balance.

In the event of an abscess, the area in question is drained to remove pus.

Patients need to be monitored for blood pressure, breathing and organ health.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Infections related to the use of tampons are not common, but they do occur if they are not used properly.

  • The use of a tampon should not exceed 8 hours and, in fact, the ideal would be to replace it every 4 or 5 hours.
  • In case of heavy flow, it is better to opt for tampons or a menstrual cup .
  • You should use tampons only in special cases, such as a day at the beach, physical activity or with certain clothing.
  • The ideal is to choose those with a low degree of absorption, in fact, the more flow they absorb, the greater the risk of contracting the disease.
  • Keep sanitary pads away from sources of heat and humidity to prevent the development of bacteria.

Toxic shock syndrome is a disease that requires immediate attention because the consequences can be fatal.

It is advisable to consult your doctor immediately in case there are the symptoms mentioned and especially in the presence of risk factors.

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