First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Fitness & Health > Health Library > Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare illness that happens suddenly after an infection. It quickly can harm several different organs, including the lungs, the kidneys, and the liver, and it can be deadly. Since toxic shock syndrome gets worse quickly, it requires medical treatment right away.
An infection caused by strep or staph bacteria can lead to toxic shock syndrome. These bacteria are common and usually don't cause problems. But in rare cases, the toxins enter the bloodstream and cause a severe immune reaction. This reaction causes the symptoms of TSS.
If you have had TSS, you are more likely to get it again.footnote 1
Toxic shock symptoms get worse quickly and can be deadly within 2 days. Symptoms include:
Other TSS symptoms may include:
Having sudden, severe symptoms is one of the most important clues that you may have toxic shock syndrome. If you think you have TSS, get medical care right away.
Doctors usually diagnose toxic shock syndrome based on your symptoms. Tests can help show whether staph or strep bacteria are causing the infection. Tests you may need include:
Treatment for toxic shock syndrome almost always takes place in a hospital. Treatment includes:
Sometimes surgery is needed if TSS developed after surgery or if the infection is destroying the skin and soft tissue (necrotizing fasciitis).
After having TSS, you may get better in 1 to 2 weeks. But it will take longer if you had major complications.
You can take steps to prevent TSS:
Ainbinder SW, et al. (2007). Toxic shock syndrome section of Sexually transmitted diseases and pelvic infections. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 689–691. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Other Works Consulted
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Group A Streptococcal (GAS) Disease. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/index.html.
Larioza J, Brown RB (2011). Toxic shock syndrome. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn's Current Therapy 2011, pp. 88–90. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Stevens DL, et al. (2006). Successful treatment of staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome with linezolid: A case report and in vitro evaluation of the production of toxic shock syndrome toxin type 1 in the presence of antibiotics. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 42: 729–731.
Current as of:
June 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal MedicineDennis L. Stevens MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease
Current as of:
June 9, 2019
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine & Dennis L. Stevens MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
509 N. Bright Leaf Blvd.
Smithfield, NC 27577
Phone (919) 934-8171
Employee Intranet Login
Copyright 2019 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.