What is it?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare but serious medical condition that can affect anyone. TSS can be caused by toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus or GAS) bacteria. However, the majority of cases are associated with staph bacteria.

TSS can occur in anyone, but certain factors can increase the risk of developing this condition. These include the use of highly absorbent tampons or menstrual cups, skin wounds or burns, surgical incisions, childbirth, and the use of contraceptive devices such as sponges, diaphragms, or cervical caps. Other factors that may increase the risk of developing TSS include a weakened immune system, recent viral infection, and a history of TSS.

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Signs & symptoms

It is important to recognize the symptoms of TSS, which may include a high fever, low blood pressure, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and confusion. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have TSS, it is important to seek immediate medical attention as this condition can be life-threatening if left untreated.


TSS is typically made by a healthcare professional based on a combination of clinical signs and symptoms, as well as laboratory tests.

The healthcare professional will typically perform a physical examination to look for signs of infection, such as a fever, low blood pressure, a rash, and other symptoms. Blood and urine tests may also be conducted to detect the presence of toxins and to check for organ damage.

If TSS is suspected, the healthcare professional may also take samples from the site of the infection, such as a wound or vaginal swab, to identify the bacteria responsible for the infection. This can help determine the appropriate treatment for the patient.

It is important to note that TSS can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can mimic those of other conditions, such as the flu or gastroenteritis. Therefore, if you have any of the symptoms associated with TSS, it is important to seek medical attention right away, especially if you have any of the risk factors for TSS.


The treatment of TSS typically involves hospitalization and may include a combination of therapies to address the underlying infection, manage symptoms, and support organ function. The specific treatment plan may vary depending on the severity of the illness, the underlying cause, and the patient's overall health.

The first step in treating TSS is to identify and treat the underlying infection. This may involve the use of antibiotics to kill the bacteria responsible for the infection. Depending on the severity of the infection, antibiotics may be given intravenously in the hospital setting.

In addition to antibiotics, treatment for TSS may include supportive care to manage symptoms and support organ function. This may include intravenous fluids to maintain blood pressure, medications to manage fever and pain, and oxygen therapy to support respiratory function.

If a patient has a tampon or other foreign object in their body that may be contributing to the infection, it may need to be removed. For women, this may involve the removal of tampons, menstrual cups, or other menstrual products. For other patients, this may involve the removal of a surgical implant or other foreign object.

In severe cases of TSS, patients may require intensive care and monitoring, including the use of a ventilator to support breathing and dialysis to support kidney function.

It is important to note that TSS can be a life-threatening condition, and prompt medical treatment is essential for a successful outcome. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have TSS, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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