Toxic Shock Syndrome

What is toxic shock syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare but life-threatening complication of bacterial infection. TSS can affect anyone, male or female. However, it occurs most frequently in young women who wear tampons. It's important to note that tampons themselves don't cause TSS.

TSS is caused by two types of bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus (commonly called staph) and streptococcus pyogenes (commonly called strep). These bacteria are common in our bodies and don't usually cause any problems. But they make toxins that, in rare cases, can enter the bloodstream and cause TSS.

  • staph bacteria TSS most frequently occurs after a tampon is left in too long
  • manufacturing changes in tampons have reduced the incidence of tampon-induced TSS by more than 40 percent
  • strep bacteria TSS most often occurs after childbirth, surgery and minor cuts or wounds.
  • symptoms can develop quickly.
  • treatment for TSS usually involves IV antibiotics.