You’ve probably heard about toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in health class. However, most of us have almost forgotten about it. Although TSS is rare, it still can affect anyone. It’s important to understand that this syndrome is extremely acute which means it’s life-threatening. Each woman needs to be aware of the causes and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome and the ways to prevent it.
So, what is toxic shock syndrome? This condition occurs when certain strains of staphylococcus bacteria release toxins that provoke shock, fevers, and even organ failure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toxic shock syndrome affects one in 100,000 Americans.
In most cases, toxic shock syndrome happens due to improper tampon usage. When you leave a tampon for too long, it grows harmful bacteria that produce toxins into your bloodstream. However, this is not the only way to develop toxic shock syndrome. You can also contract it through cuts, burns, and due to different skin infections.
Toxic Shock Syndrome commonly occurs in women but can affect men, children, and postmenopausal women as well.
Symptoms of TSS include:
- low blood pressure
- high fever
- muscle pain
Fortunately, it’s always possible to prevent toxic shock syndrome. Prevention includes five essential and effective steps. Let’s look at them.
1. Maintain healthy vitamin D levels
Many experts believe that in order to avoid any infection including TSS, it’s important to get sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals which can help you improve your immune system. Scientists claim that vitamin D deficiency is linked to the inability to resist infections.
Therefore, boosting your vitamin D intake is a good way to prevent toxic shock syndrome. Eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin D like mushrooms, salmon, and cod liver oil. If you’re living in a sunny region, you can use sunlight as a vitamin D booster.
Most people who have normal vitamin D levels can take 1000 IU with no side effects and within several months. But if you have extremely low vitamin D levels, you might need to take 5000 IU daily. In any case, before taking vitamin D supplements, contact your doctor and run lab tests to check your vitamin D levels.
2. Try to use only organic menstrual products
Women are more likely to get toxic shock syndrome as improper care of menstrual health is a big risk factor.
Keep in mind that if you have already been treated for TSS one or more times, you need to talk to your gynecologist to find out whether it’s safe to use a tampon again, even an organic one. You can use care products like sanitary pads and menstrual cups as they are free of dioxins, fragrance, chlorine, and allergens. Also, make sure your care product meets the certification for Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS).
3. Eat more foods high in minerals
In order to prevent TSS, your immune system should be strong enough to resist infections. Essential minerals, especially zinc and magnesium, will help you strengthen your immune system. Zinc plays a big role in adaptive and innate immune responses and can protect you from the negative effects of infections like inflammation and tissue damage.
Many people eat hemp, pumpkin, and flax seeds to get those important minerals. Probiotic yogurt is also rich in zinc and magnesium. You can provide your body with minerals by eating meat, poultry, shellfish, and nuts like peanuts, pine nuts, cashews, and almonds.
But many products with high mineral content are not plant-based, therefore, vegetarians and vegans need to take supplements as well.
4. Provide your body with probiotics
Why probiotics? They actually play a key role in maintaining your immune system healthy and strong. According to many studies, microbiome imbalance is associated with some infections including toxic shock syndrome.
If you don’t believe that probiotic supplements can be helpful, you can improve your microbiome with a diet rich in fermented foods. These include yogurt without added sugar, kefir, raw cheeses, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso. In addition to a strong immune system, those superfoods will provide you with a healthy digestive system and a body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals.