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).

1. Identify the Warning Signs

The top symptoms of TSS can often be mistaken for the flu. In most cases, the symptoms appear 2-3 days after infection and start slowly, but progress rapidly. The key is if you experience these symptoms after using a tampon, having surgery, or experiencing a skin injury. They include:
  • high fever (usually about 102 degrees)
  • low blood pressure
  • headache & muscle aches
  • muscle aches
  • confusion
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rashes on the feet or hands
  • redness in or around eyes, mouth, throat, and vagina.
  • seizures

2. Contact a Doctor

If you have any of the above symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. TSS is a rare but extremely dangerous condition – and if you have even the slightest suspicion that you may have it, it’s important to get a professional opinion before you do anything else. Prompt treatment can help to avoid more serious complications or organ damage.

3. Remove Tampon Immediately (keep if possible)

If you still have your tampon that you removed, place it in a sandwich bag and take it with you. Your doctor may check your blood and urine for infection, and to check your liver and kidney function. They may also take swabs of cells from your cervix, vagina, and throat. These samples are analyzed for the bacteria that cause toxic shock syndrome. Having access to the tampon can help to provide more definitive information to your physician. When you go to the ER, be sure to share all of the information you covered in this post.

4. If Diagnosed…

If you are diagnosed with TSS, learn the measures you’ll need to take to prevent recurrence. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you have a 30% chance of getting it again. If you’ve ever had TSS, you should immediately cease the use of tampons, and opt for a natural solution, like organic cotton pads instead.

REMEMBER – you are your own best health advocate. If you fear that something serious is wrong, your intuition is there in order to keep you safe. It never hurts to get checked out by a professional to make sure everything is all clear. With a condition as serious as TSS, it is far better to be safe than sorry.

If you are also worried about TSS, have no fear. You are not alone – and there are tons of resources and support available to you.

Do YOU have a question to ask us? We’re all ears! Check out our PeriodTalk Q&A forum, or shoot us a message. We would love to hear from you.


Wishing you our best,

Tara & the BPP team

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