What you need to know about Toxic Shock Syndrome
Chances are, you've heard horror stories of women getting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). In your head, you know there's a very small chance it could happen to you. But one misstep, one moment of forgetfulness can change your life and almost kill you.
It happened to 14-year-old Molly Pawlett, from England, after she accidentally left her tampon in for too long. Initially, her mom thought her daughter was just ill, but then she noticed a rash spreading all over her body. She asked her daughter if she was wearing a tampon, and when she told her she was, she instructed Molly to take it out. Then, they rushed to the hospital.
While improper tampon use isn't the only cause for TSS, it's a danger all women should be aware of. It's estimated that only 1-2 out of every 100,000 women get TSS, and of those, only 4% of patients are killed by it.
Did you know that TSS can still enter a body through a cut or bite, or even through childbirth? See the symptoms of TSS.
Lucky, Molly received medical attention just in the knick of time. When she reached the hospital, her organs were already in the process of shutting down. According to The Daily Mail, Molly had been wearing the tampon for 10 hours -- only two hours more than what is advised.
While some women "lack" the protein in their body that protects them from bacteria buildup, tampons can create a "welcoming environment for bacteria to flourish," according to Dr. Owen Montgomery in Cosmopolitan.
He advised in the article:
"You'd have to have your period and leave a tampon in for way too long, which creates a welcoming environment for bacteria to flourish. Then, and only then, that bacteria may release enough toxic byproduct to upset your system and spark high fever; red, flaky skin; rashes; muscle aches; or dizziness — the first symptoms of TSS."
According to WebMD, women under the age of 19 account for more than a third of all TSS cases. Furthermore, of those who have had the disease before, more than a third may get it again.
Molly's mother is hoping that other families know the symptoms of TSS.
"A lot of the mothers I met at the hospital had heard of toxic shock but weren't aware of any of the symptoms which is really dangerous. Hopefully by sharing her story we will be able to warn others to always get a second opinion," she said to The Daily Mail.
Many women are taught that the maximum they can leave their tampon in for is 8 hours, but some doctors are advising them to switch their tampons more frequently. Instead of 8 hours, it should be swapped more often than every 4 hours.
"I really want to encourage other girls not to leave tampons in for longer than eight hours, thankfully I pulled through but others might not be as lucky,' Molly said to The Daily Mail.