Outlook, risk factors and complications of TSS
Outlook for toxic shock syndrome
Signs of toxic shock syndrome are considered a medical emergency. The earlier treatment is administered, the better. Once toxins in the bloodstream begin causing multiple organ complications, TSS becomes increasingly life-threatening.
That said, mortality rates are relatively low (approximately 5% to 15%). The more complications develop, the more severe a person’s condition requiring treatment. Early intervention can prevent serious organ related complications, including respiratory failure or coagulation disorders. Most who receive prompt and sufficient treatment will make a full recovery within a few days and up to several weeks.
A small percentage of people may experience persisting symptoms of muscle weakness, concentration difficulties, emotional imbalances or memory loss for a period of time post recovery.
Women who wish to fall pregnant should not have any fertility affected issues, but it is strongly advisable to ensure that a doctor is well aware of a prior infection so that a baby’s delivery can be closely monitored.
What risk factors are associated with toxic shock syndrome?
- A history of using superabsorbent tampons
- Birth control methods, such as a diaphragm or vaginal (contraceptive) sponge
- Injury with a localised infection (skin wound, burn or following childbirth or an abortion)
- Infection following surgical procedures
- Following a viral infection such as the flu or chickenpox (when the immune system is low)
- Individuals at greater risk of contracting group A streptococcus infections are also at higher risk for TSS, such as those with diabetes
The nature of TSS means that toxins can poison the body fairly quickly. This can cause multiple organ damage which can result in any of the following:
- Reduced blood flow to the body (shock)
- Renal failure (kidneys) – signs include body weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, swelling (of the ankles and feet), difficulties with urination, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, shortness of breath, sleeping problems, persistent itching and hiccups
- Liver failure – signs include jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, concentration problems, confusion, and sleepiness
- Heart failure – signs include chest pain, coughing, wheezing, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, body weakness, concentration difficulties and a loss of appetite
Is toxic shock syndrome contagious?
A TSS infection is not capable of being spread from one person to another. Downtime for recovery (away from school or the workplace) is only needed in order to heal symptoms and treat damage to tissues caused by the release of toxins in the bloodstream. It is not necessary for a person with TSS to isolate themselves from others.