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Scared I Might Have TSS

Published: June 10, 2008
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I am 13 am scared that I might have TSS. When ever i put a tampon in I get almost immediate diahhorea and I feel quite dizzy. Also my vagina is really sore and ichy and smell quite bad. I also have a yellowy smelly dischrage sometimes and im really qorried about TSS and infection. Im to scared to tell my mum as when I tried she just laughed and said I was making a deal over nothing. Am I normal ??
Signed: Scared I Might Have TSS

Dear Scared I Might Have TSS,

 

For our readers who may not know, TSS (toxic shock syndrome) is a serious but fairly rare bacterial infection that has been linked with the use of tampons, contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, and wounds secondary to minor trauma or surgery incisions where bacteria have been able to enter the body and cause the infection.

 

With the symptoms you are experiencing, FX does not think that you are “making a deal over nothing.” Since you are experiencing some symptoms of TSS, including diarrhea and dizziness, and because you have noticed changes in your genital area in terms of feeling sore, itchy, and having odor/color changes with your vaginal discharge, FX thinks that it is important for your doctor to be contacted right away. You could meet with your primary care physician, a gynecologist, or an adolescent medicine specialist – but it is important that you be evaluated for the presence of TSS or any other kinds of infections, and that you receive any necessary treatment by a medical health professional as soon as possible.

 

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood.  

 

For more information about the symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of TSS, please read through the following:

 

Symptoms of TSS:

  • Vomiting
  • High fever (temperature of at least 102 degrees)
  • A rapid drop in blood pressure, which can cause lightheadedness or fainting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • A sunburn-like rash can appear within 24 hours
  • Bloodshot eyes and an unusual redness under the eyelids or inside the mouth or vagina
  • Broken blood vessels may appear on the skin
  • Confusion or other mental changes
  • Decreased urination
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Thirst
  • Weak and Rapid pulse
  • Pale, cool, moist skin
  • Rapid breathing 

If any of these symptoms are present, it is important to call your doctor right away.

 

Preventing TSS:

  • Hand washing is extremely important as the bacteria that can cause TSS can be carried on unwashed hands and can lead to an infection anywhere in the body.
  • The risk of TSS can be reduced by either avoiding tampons or alternating them with the use of sanitary napkins.
  • Use tampons with the lowest absorbency that will handle menstrual flow.
  • Change tampons frequently.
  • Between menstrual periods, store tampons away from heat and moisture, where bacteria can grow. For example, it is often better to store tampons in a bedroom rather than a bathroom closet.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after inserting a tampon as the bacteria that causes TSS can be carried on dirty hands.
  • Check with your doctor to see whether or not you can continue to use tampons if you have already had TSS.

Diagnosis of TSS:

 

A doctor can diagnose TSS by doing a physical exam and by conducting blood tests to assess liver and kidney functions. Doctors may also take samples of fluids from any abscesses, boils, or infected wounds to look for the bacteria that can cause TSS.

 

Treatment of TSS:

 

Generally, TSS is treated with antibiotics, and in severe cases steroids may also be used. If there is a pocket of infection, like an abscess, a doctor may also need to drain the infected area. Those with TSS will also be monitored for signs of shock until the condition has stabilized and seems to be improving. Signs of shock include: cold hands and feet, a pulse that is fast and weak, confusion or other mental changes, pale, moist skin, shortness of breath, abnormally fast breathing, or a strong feeling of anxiety or fear. An ambulance should be called or a person should be brought to the emergency room immediately if there is any concern someone is showing signs of being in shock.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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