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Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

What is toxic shock syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) describes a cluster of symptoms that involve many systems of the body. The following bacteria commonly cause TSS:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus pyogenes

TSS from Staphylococcus infections was identified in the late 70s and early 80s when highly absorbent tampons were widely used in menstruating women. Due to manufacturing changes in tampons, the incidence of tampon-induced TSS has declined.

TSS from Streptococcus infections is most commonly seen in children and the elderly. Other populations at risk include individuals with diabetes, HIV, chronic lung disease, or heart disease.

What are the possible causes of TSS:
  • history of using super-absorbent tampons
  • surgical wounds
  • a local infection in the skin or deep tissue
  • history of using the diaphragm or contraceptive sponge
  • history of childbirth or abortion
Treatment for toxic shock syndrome:

Specific treatment will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference