TOXIC 
 SHOCK 
 SYNDROM 

TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME – WHAT IS IT?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins [1]. TSS can affect anyone of any age – including men and children. Half of the victims are women on their periods [2].

 

TSS, or tampon disease as it is otherwise known, affects women across the world. Using super-absorbent tampons or leaving tampons in for longer than recommended increases the risk of TSS as the blood absorbed by the tampon allows certain bacteria to thrive. These bacterium can produce toxins that put the body in a state of shock, potentially damaging tissue and stopping vital organs from working. The condition is extremely serious and can lead to death if it is not intensively treated with fluid and antibiotics.

THE MORE ABSORBENT THE TAMPON, THE HIGHER THE RISK

The absorbent nature of tampons has been strongly linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). This was illustrated in the case of P&G having to recall [3] its Rely tampon brand in 1980 after a study published by US agency Centers for Disease Control & Prevention found that women who used high-absorbency tampons had a 17 to 30 time higher risk of getting TSS.

 

Reported cases of TSS have significantly decreased since the 1980s, but one prominent researcher in this field, Philip Tierno [4], has isolated the bacterial toxin that causes TSS from Rayon, a tampon fibre made from wood-based cellulose. As Rayon may contain traces of dioxin, the by-product from its production [5], questions need to be asked whether dioxin exposure is a contributory factor to TSS as well.

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