Skip to Content
Home > Wellness Resources > 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
kidneys, and the
liver, and it can be deadly. Since toxic shock
syndrome gets worse quickly, it requires medical treatment right away.
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
If you have had TSS, you are more likely to get it again.1, 2
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.
take steps to prevent TSS:
Learning about toxic shock syndrome:
Preventing toxic shock syndrome:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is
an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC works
with state and local health officials and the public to achieve better health
for all people. The CDC creates the expertise, information, and tools that
people and communities need to protect their health—by promoting health,
preventing disease, injury, and disability, and being prepared for new health
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases conducts research and provides consumer information on infectious and
Que Y-A, Moreillon P (2010). Staphylococcus aureus (including staphylococcal toxic shock). In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2543–2578. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
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
American Public Health Association (2008). Toxic shock syndrome. In DL Heymann, ed., Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, 19th ed., pp. 576–577. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Group A Streptococcal (GAS) Disease. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/groupastreptococcal_g.htm.
Larioza J, Brown RB (2011). Toxic shock syndrome. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn’s Current Therapy 2011, pp. 88–90. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Low DE (2012). Nonpneumococcal streptococcal infections, rheumatic fever. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 1823–1829. 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.
February 23, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Dennis L. Stevens, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.