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Toxic Shock Syndrome Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms usually come on suddenly. Some patients may have fever, chills, and body aches for up to four days prior to other symptoms developing. Wounds in the nonmenstrual type may not appear infected.

Symptoms of both types include:

  • Fever of 102 degrees fahrenheit or greater
  • Sunburn-like rash
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sore throat
  • Red eyes
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Sleepiness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Vaginal discharge (may be watery or bloody)
  • Swelling in the face and eyelids
  • Skin peeling off, especially palms of hands and soles of feet (occurs late in disease, 1 to 2 weeks after initial illness)

The initial symptoms may improve, but the disease progresses and causes multiple organs to fail. Symptoms of severe TSS include:

  • Kidney failure—little or no urine production
  • Seriously low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Gangrene
  • Pancreatitis
  • Low platelet count
  • Heart problems
  • Fluid retention
  • Liver failure

Organ System—Female

Systemic Women
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The doctor will perform a physical and pelvic exam. The doctor may test tissue in your vagina or in a wound that could be the source of the bacteria. Although these tests are often done, they can be commonly negative. The diagnosis is based on the fever, the rash, low blood pressure, and problems affecting multiple body systems. Other tests may be done to rule out other medical conditions.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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