This Woman’s Flu Turned out to Be Toxic Shock Syndrome!

Playing Woman Mistakes Toxic Shock Syndrome for the Flu

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The Doctors meet Aimee, a woman whose flu-like symptoms turned out to be a result of something possibly deadlier: Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). ER physician Dr. Travis Stork asks Aimee about the day she realized something was very wrong.

Aimee shares that she got progressively worse but on day three of not feeling well, she knew it was serious. In hindsight, Aimee says she should have gone to the ER that night, but luckily, she got there just in time the next morning. “When I went Sunday morning I was told if I had waited another hour, I would have been dead,” shares Aimee.

Watch: Boy Robbed of Limbs by Bacterial Meningitis

OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry explains that TSS is a rare but life-threatening condition which is triggered by certain bacteria. These bacteria will begin to make toxins in the body and when it gets into the bloodstream it can cause symptoms like low blood pressure, high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and sunburn-like rashes on the palms and soles of the feet. TSS is often associated with a retained tampon but this is not always the case. Both men and women can get the illness.

Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra shares that 50% of TSS cases are unrelated to menses. The illness is due to staph and strep bacteria which can also come from wounds, barrier contraception or even bone infections. 25% of people who get this are men. 

Aimee shares that when she went to the ER, they knew immediately that she was septic, but it wasn’t until hours later and several tests that the doctors asked about her menstrual cycle and when she last had her period. The onsite OB/GYN then did an examination of her cervix to determine that she was septic because of TSS.

Dr. Nita stresses that this is very rare, but does offer advice to prevent the illness. Women should wash their hands before they insert a tampon and then after doing so. She recommends only using a tampon if on your period and unwrapping it only once you are ready to use it.

Watch: How Often Do You Change Your Tampon?

If possible, chose the lowest absorbency tampons because the higher absorbency, the more blood that will pool, and that blood is a good medium for bacteria to grow. Change your tampon every 4 – 6  hours and leave it in overnight for no longer than 8 hours. 

Dr. Travis says Aimee did the right thing and advises viewers to seek a doctor’s care if they aren’t feeling quite right, and if worried about your life and health get to the ER immediately.