Last year, a 20-year-old girl, Amy Rae Elifritz, felt like she had the flu. Just a few days later, she died from Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)–a rare but sometimes fatal infection usually caused by tampon use.
I know all too well about this freaky illness. When I was in elementary school, my mother suddenly got super sick. She was totally fine during the day, then at night, she came down with a super high fever and her skin was almost green. She was rushed to the hospital, and was there for weeks while experts tried to cure her of TSS. At one point, doctors told my dad that she would probably die. I’m thankful every single day that she made it through (hi, mom!), but her health has never been the same.
Even after all that, I still use tampons sometimes (they’re great for swimming and yoga!), but I also know how to use them right and lower my risk of TSS. Here are the facts:
- Leaving a tampon in for too long can lead to a build up of bacteria and cause TSS. Make sure you change your tampon every 4-6 hours to be safe.
- Super-absorbent tampons are by far the most dangerous in terms of TSS, and doctors warn against using a higher level of absorbency than you need. Try a regular tampon first, and then only go up a level if you bleed through.
- TSS symptoms are a lot like the flu (high fever, low blood pressure, vomiting or diarrhea, achiness, and possibly a rash). So if you’ve been using tampons in the days before getting these symptoms, call your doctor. Sure, it could just be the flu, but you want to rule out TSS before it’s too late.
Obviously, I’m not saying you shouldn’t use tampons–only a couple people out of 100,000 will get it each year–but if you’re going to use them, use them safely. You’re too important to die over a tiny tube of cotton!
Do you use tampons? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.