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Question:

Can someone tell me how to avoid getting toxic shock syndrome?

Learn more about safe tampon use and the causes of TSS.

EXPERT ANSWER

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is caused when the normal bacteria you have in your vagina get out of balance. Staph or strep bacteria overgrow and release a toxin that makes you really sick. Symptoms of TSS are fever, vomiting, dizziness, muscle aches and weakness, and a sunburn-like rash on your skin. If you have signs of TSS, you need to go to your healthcare professional right away. It is a serious illness and if you don't seek care fast enough, you can die from it. I'm not trying to freak you out, but I also don't want you ignoring the symptoms, assuming you just have the flu and your period at the same time. You don't have to be using a tampon to get TSS. It can happen to anyone (or children, men, and non-menstruating women) who has surgery, a burn or an open wound, but tampons do increase the chances a bit, especially if you don't change your tampon every 4-8 hours. In addition to changing your tampon regularly when you have your period, you can use pads at night and at other times to decrease the risk. Eating a healthy diet, especially one with yogurt in it, can help keep the bacteria balance right and decrease the chance of bacteria imbalance and TSS.

MOM ANSWER

I think it's awesome that you're asking this question! It shows that you're being responsible with your health. I remember the first time I tried using a tampon. Beyond worrying about how the heck I was going to insert the thing, the TSS information scared me silly. I'm not a medical professional, but my two cents would be to follow the directions for tampon usage provided in the box. For example, while it's eco-friendly to conserve, you shouldn't try it with tampons. Never use them longer than 4-8 hours. And be sure to check out Health Expert Dr. Molly's response for a medically-based answer.

PEER ANSWER

First, I highly suggest reading over your product information carefully. I am always sure to change my tampon every 4-8 hours and I usually do not sleep with one in. I've also found the multi-absorbency tampon packs great for using only the minimal amount of absorbency that I need. If you have more questions, you can ask your healthcare professional (and see what Dr. Molly, one of our Health Experts, has to say).

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This is not intended to be medical advice. Everybody is different so please make sure to consult your physician if you're having issues. Do not delay or refrain from seeking professional medical advice from your physician because of something you have read on this site.

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