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Toxic Shock Syndrome

How Do I Know if it’s the Flu or Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome often starts off with flu like symptoms. Since it presents quickly, and can often seem very similar to the flu, it can be hard to recognize these signs as a potential for something serious. For this reason, it is important that you understand the symptoms of each condition, and how they differ from each other.

As always, preventative measures are the best form of protection from Toxic Shock Syndrome. Making the switch to organic tampons (read more about a natural product switch here) is a great place to start. We recommend changing your tampon every two hours, and using only the absorption rate necessary for that day’s flow. For example – if you’re nearing the end of your period, you may not need anything more than a light absorbency tampon, or even a panty liner. In addition, alternating between internal and external product is wise. This allows time for any toxins that may have formed in your body to dissipate before you insert the next tampon.

We’ve created this quick graphic for you to compare symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome and the common flu. Remember – knowledge is power. Knowing the symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome is the first step to understanding your risk, and a quick response to the signs could save your life or the life of someone you love. It is important to note that while these are some of the most common symptoms, other side effects could come into play. If you fear something isn’t right, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to rule out anything serious. Click to continue reading… »

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I Think I Have TSS, I Need Help, I’m Scared…

I think I have TSS, I need Help, I'm Scared

We receive lots of great questions through our PeriodTalk forum – and this one is a concern that many young girls have. For that reason, we wanted to share our answer here to help others who may be struggling with the same worry.

Here’s the question:

“I thought I had the flu as of two days ago.  Started with itchy throat, then next day the throat turned very sensitive and sore. This didn’t alarm me right away for I have always had issues with throat soreness at least 1-2 a year. However, the third night out of nowhere I woke up at 3AM, vomiting, having light diarrhea, body aches, headaches (which I never get) and abdominal pain. I think I may have TSS shock. I immediately took out my tampon and felt a little better but now I’m about to go to the ER to get checked and I’m just scared. I wanted to know what kind of tests they run if you go in with suspicion of TSS…..any advice.”

Thank you for reaching out to us. First – we are so sorry you’re feeling scared. The good news is, you’re aware of the risk and acting proactively. Here are our top tips for ladies who fear they may be affected by Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

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Monthly Mission: Toxic Shock Syndrome Awareness

Monthly Mission - Toxic Shock Syndrome Awareness


If you’ve opened up a box of tampons before, you’ve probably encountered the scary warning label on the inside of the pamphlet: “Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome. (TSS)” And whether or not you took this warning seriously the first time you saw it, most likely your concern has slowly dissipated the longer you’ve used tampons. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Unfortunately, this is a mistake that can have grave consequences. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections. It is often associated with the use of super absorbent tampons that contain rayon and other synthetic materials. And unfortunately, girls that are just starting their periods are at a higher risk, since their antibodies are not yet fully developed. This makes it all the more important to be informed about the risks of TSS from a young age. It is crucial for menstruating women and girls to know the risk, the symptoms, and what to do if they think they may have TSS. This dangerous condition claims lives each year; on average, 1 in every 100,000 people in the United States will experience it annually.

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Toxic Shock Syndrome – What Every Woman Should Know

Toxic Shock Syndrome ImgAmy Elifritz was age 20, menstruating and using tampons, when she came down with what appeared to be the flu.  She died four days later from Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).  After Amy’s death, her mother, Lisa, founded You ARE Loved, a nonprofit that raises awareness about tampon related Toxic Shock Syndrome and provides factual menstrual information.

Since launching the You ARE Loved website, we have received and posted several stories of girls and young women who developed tampon related TSS in recent years: Sarah and Brittany, both age 15 – Alex, age 16 – Katelyn, 17 – Amanda, 19 – Lauren, 20 – Nikki, who died of TSS at 21 – Shenikwa, a college student – Heather, a new mom….

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How You ARE Loved Changed My Life

In contrast to the many Toxic Shock Syndrome stories on You ARE Loved‘s site, mine is not one of illness, loss or pain. I am a lucky one!

Toxic Shock Syndrome AwarenessGetting Started with Tampons
I started my menstrual journey at 15 the way most girls do: using pads.  I never got along with them, and hated the “diapery” feeling and the odor.

My mom solely used tampons, so I was naturally curious about them. After only a few cycles of using pads I snuck some of my mom’s tampons (and never looked back.) After “borrowing” a large quantity from her, I feared she would begin to notice.

Somehow I worked up the courage (for some reason I thought she might not approve) to approach her and let her know I wanted start using tampons. She understood my dislike of pads and was ok with me making the switch. A lot like the menstruation/puberty talks we had, this talk was also very brief. I only recall her mentioning a quick caution to not leave them in too long because of something rare called TSS that could make me sick. That conversation did not concern me enough to read the warning on the box (or leaflet inside).

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A Scary Encounter With TSS: At Camp

By Tara B. – Faith Confessions

The day started out great we all woke up got ready and went to breakfast. Our cabin was known for not putting in too much effort when getting ready. While the other girl’s rooms were filled with fumes of hair spray and their mirrors were prime real estate our routine consisted of rolling out of bed, throwing our hair in a ponytail, and heading out. Sweats were ok, but not because I didn’t care but because the Seniors and Juniors wore them. Don’t get me wrong while I wanted the bow in my hair and wished I had a different lip gloss for every day of the week that just was not the style and habit of my bunk mates.

I was so thrilled to be in the same cabin as Ashley, Sarah and Erica. They were older and so comfortable in their skin. The did not seem to need anyone’s approval and made sure the younger girls knew it too. It was my second visit to camp with them and I was in aww that it was “cool” to be Christian and sing and be loud and proud about it. The girls did their best to make the underclass man feel welcome and accepted. Continually they told us about the shaving cream fight and how wonderful and fun it was. The day was epic at camp and we tried to stay together and have each other’s backs. Being it was held outside and we were in the mountains safety was key and our counselors made it clear we needed to keep an eye out for each other and make sure that everyone stayed safe and no one got hurt.

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What You Should Know about Toxic Shock Syndrome

By Samantha Gluck

tamponsThe term toxic shock syndrome (TSS) refers to a rare complication from a bacterial infection often resulting in life-threatening consequences. Frequently, TSS occurs from toxins released by the Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria, but the Streptococcus pyogenes (strep) bacteria can also cause the condition. These toxins circulate throughout the bloodstream, causing high fever, rash, multiple organ system failures, and hypotension.

TSS History and Risk Factors
Physicians first saw the often-fatal condition in children in 1978, but it later became associated with super-absorbent tampons and contraceptive sponges. An epidemic of the condition sprung up in 1981; authorities linked it to women using a certain type of super-absorbent tampons. Healthcare providers see the most common types of TSS in menstruating women; tampon use encourages the proliferation of bacteria that grows naturally in the vagina. Even so, men and postmenopausal women can also become infected. Risk factors, in addition to super-absorbent tampon use, include open skin wounds, nasal packing, childbirth and surgery.

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Tampon Awareness

By Natracare

Toxic Shock Syndrome was back in the headlines recently following an investigation on US television about the tampon related death of Amy Elifritz.

Tampon TestIn response women around the world have been asking what is in their tampon and are there any potential health risks?

Natracare raised the issue of fibre loss in conventional tampons at least 15 years ago. The reaction from those conventional brands was that the body naturally dispels the fibres. We asked nurses doing smear tests and they said that they can always tell who uses tampons because they have to remove old tampon fibres before achieving a clear smear for sampling. Conventional tampons mostly use rayon to make their tampons. Rayon is a straight, smooth fibre made from wood pulp. These smooth fibres have little integrity so they slide apart more easily when wet. Eventually, these same manufacturers who claimed fibre loss was not an issue, decided to put a polypropylene (that’s plastic to you and me) non-woven wrapper around the rayon core to reduce the loss of fibres.

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