Toxic shock syndrome requires immediate emergency care in a hospital. If you think you have it, get medical help as soon as possible. Call 911 or get to a hospital emergency room right away. Have someone take you, because you may quickly become too shaky to drive yourself.
Treatment for this life-threatening condition must be aggressive. Your doctor or emergency room personnel will start by giving you antibiotics to kill the bacteria and stop more poisons from being made. You'll also receive intravenous fluids. Other urgent steps may include blood transfusion and other medicines to stabilize your blood pressure. Some cases call for a ventilator, which will temporarily breathe for you.
By Amy Engeler
At 3 a.m., with all the houses dark up and down her winding suburban street in West Warwick, Rhode Island, Jo-Ann Frey, 37, lights a candle so she can see well enough to dust her furniture. Careful not to turn on any lights or make noise that might wake up her family, she drifts from room to room with her candle and cleaning supplies, waiting until she feels sleepy enough to climb back into bed. That feeling doesn't come -- and when she hears the alarm in the bedroom go off...
Using tampons increases your risk of having toxic shock syndrome, but your risk is much lower if you use regular tampons instead of super-absorbent ones. It falls even lower if you switch to sanitary napkins. You may also lower risk by taking these steps:
Minimize your use of tampons. You might alternate tampons with sanitary napkins during the day and use napkins at night.
Use the least absorbent tampon that will control your menstrual flow; change tampons at least every eight hours. Be sure to remove the last tampon when your period is over.
If you use a menstrual sponge, diaphragm, or cervical cap, remove it when it is not needed. Under no circumstances should you leave any such device in for more than 24 hours. Wash your diaphragm or cervical cap in warm, soapy water after each use.