Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections. It results from exotoxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus and group A Streptococcus bacteria. Risk factors for toxic shock syndrome include skin wounds and surgery. Symptoms include sudden high fever, hypotension, headaches, vomiting or diarrhea and rash resembling sunburn on palms and soles. It usually affects muliple organ systems. It is a very rare illness. It can affect men, children and postmenopausal women. The mean annual incidence of TSS is less than 2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Staphylococcal TSS is more common in females during menstruation.
Patients with TSS are hospitalized and require intensive care. It is usually treated with antibiotics, and drugs to lower temperature, and large amounts of fluids to maintain the blood pressure. Intravenous antibiotic combinations of penicillins and clindamycin are given to help prevent recurrence. With proper treatment, patients generally recover within three weeks. Women are advised to use the tampon with the lowest absorbency and to change their tampon as often as directed. Women can reduce the minimal risk of tampon-related TSS by varying tampon use with pads from time to time during their period.