Mother-of-five children got toxic shock syndrome from a tampon that she used. Greta Zarate, from Jacksonville, North Carolina experienced mils flu-like symptoms during her period at the start of this year. Later on, she went to Onslow Memorial Hospital and was admitted for four days in fever and dangerously low blood pressure.
The cause of her illness was not clear despite x-rays, CT scans, and other tests. A gynecologist tested a vaginal swab, which revealed shocking news that Greta is suffering from toxic shock syndrome (TSS). It is a life-threatening bacterial blood infection.
The immune system failed to fight against TSS, which moved the body to sepsis and eventually septic shock. At this stage, the body starts to attack its own organs considering them a threat. The medical experts say that Greta got this bacterial infection from the build-up of blood on her tampon. From here, it can enter the bloodstream through tiny vaginal cuts.
How common is toxic shock syndrome?
Toxic shock syndrome is a fatal bacterial infection. It is often misdiagnosed because it has no obvious symptoms of its own. It looks so much similar to many other diseases. Also, it is an extremely rare condition, which doesn’t have many cases. The experts believe that it affects only 1-2 women in every 100,000 women. It has a high mortality rate.
It starts when apparently calm staphylococcus aureus bacteria enter the bloodstream through skin abrasions. The common symptoms include high fever, flu-like symptoms, muscle pains, sore throat, cough, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, etc.
The risk of getting this infection is highest during menstruation and more when a woman is using a tampon. The tampon companies suggest changing them every four to eight hours, depending upon blood flow.
But it is a common thing to see that many times women forget about changing it. Many of tampon users also leave them overnight without considering it a problem. The treatment of toxic shock syndrome involves antibiotics that may kill the bacteria, and fluids to prevent excessive fluid loss.
It also involves blood pressure regulatory medicines and dialysis in case of kidney failure. In extreme cases, some patients also require emergency surgery to take out the infected dead tissues. It leaves the affected area amputated for life.
Is recovery from TSS possible?
Greta’s sister is a nurse who works at a hospital. After hearing to what Great is going through, she insisted her to call an ambulance for help. The only way doctors were able to diagnose TSS in her case was because one of the nurses though to check vaginal swab as she was on her period.
After taking antibiotics, fluids, and morphine for four days, Greta was able to fight against this infection and manage her condition. After that, she received a blood transfusion in order to restore her body’s red blood cells. She considers herself lucky for being able to get help at the right time.
The Toxic shock syndrome first caught attention in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was common in young women using a particular brand of super-absorbent tampon. This brand was removed and banned from the market after these shocking TSS cases. Now, almost all tampon boxes come with user warnings, which includes a change of tampon every 4-8 hours. This change of tampons usually scrapes vaginal walls a little. It may allow these deadly bacteria to enter your body and start spreading.