Toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections. Often toxic shock syndrome results from toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria, but the condition may also be caused by toxins produced by group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria.

Toxic shock syndrome historically has been associated primarily with the use of superabsorbent tampons. However, since manufacturers pulled certain types of tampons off the market, the incidence of toxic shock syndrome in menstruating women has declined.

Toxic shock syndrome can affect men, children and postmenopausal women. Risk factors for toxic shock syndrome include skin wounds and surgery.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Possible signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:

  • A sudden high fever
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • A rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles
  • Confusion
  • Muscle aches
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat
  • Seizures
  • Headaches

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have signs or symptoms of toxic shock syndrome. This is especially important if you've recently used tampons or if you have a skin or wound infection.

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