October 14, 2009

Toxic Shock Syndrome Prevention, Causes, & Symptoms

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Toxic shock syndrome is a potential fatal condition that is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms and rapid increase in severity, leading to multiple organ failure. In some cases, death occurs within hours. The possibility of toxic shock should be considered in any individual with a sudden onset of fever, rash, hypotension (low blood pressure), renal or respiratory failure, and unexplained changes in mental status. This dangerous condition is caused by toxins triggered by an infection from a bacterium known as Group A Streptococcus or Staphylococcus aureus. The risk of toxic shock syndrome is highest among menstruating women who use tampons. In children, many cases are linked to chronic sinus infections characterized by pressure in the cheeks, nasal congestion and cough. In addition, toxic shock can be caused via surgical wound infections, deep abscesses, and skin lesions. In fact, the portal of entry for the bacterial infection remains unknown in nearly half of the reported cases.

Diagnosis of toxic shock treatment is usually based on the speed and severity of the symptoms, especially in individuals who were previously healthy. In addition, toxic shock results in a characteristic rash (desquamates) that resembles sunburn. This rash can appear on any part of the body, including the mouth, eyes, lips, palms, and soles. In women, cases of toxic shock syndrome are closely linked to tampon use mainly due to the presence of natural bacterial flora in the vagina. The toxin produced by staphylococcal bacteria thrives in a protein-rich, neutral pH environment with high oxygen levels. During menstruation, the vagina has a neutral pH and protein-rich menses. In addition, the tampon allows oxygen into the normally anaerobic vaginal environment.

Due to the high mortality rate, toxic shock syndrome requires immediate hospitalization and medical care. Since many bodily systems and organs are under threat, patients may need to be admitted to an intensive care unit. Here, bodily fluids need to be monitored and replaced as the body loses critical amounts of fluid due to renal failure. A combination of wide spectrum antibiotics is administered to cover against all potential infections. Additional medication may also be administered to combat the toxin production. Doctors will try to identify the source of bacterial infection and remove any foreign bodies. In case of abscesses, these need to be drained and tested to identify the bacterium. If diagnosed in time and administered proper medical care, patients can make a full recovery in two to three weeks.