​Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life threatening complication which produces symptoms similar to other diseases, such as the flu. However, Toxic shock syndrome is much more serious, and is caused by the entry of certain bacteria into the bloodstream through an opening in the skin, such as a bruise or a cut. The infection causes a sharp drop in blood pressure that deprives organs of oxygen and can lead to death.

Toxic shock syndrome can affect men, children and postmenopausal women. Toxic shock syndrome can also affect menstruating women, especially those who use super-absorbent tampons. This has almost always been seen with the use of tampons; however, it has also been linked to the use of menstrual sponges, diaphragms, and cervical caps.

Risk factors for toxic shock syndrome include skin wounds and surgery. ​​

Symptoms for Toxic Shock Syndrome include:

  • A rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles

  • A sudden high fever

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)

  • Muscle aches and cramps

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea​

  • Confusion and disorientation

  • Headaches

  • Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat

  • Seizures​​​

Inform your doctor at the Internal Medicine Service Line​ at the Aga Khan University Hospital if you see any of the above symptoms. Our doctors who are internationally trained will be able to identify the cause immediately and suggest a course of treatment.​
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Multiple tests can be conducted to diagnose toxic shock syndrome. Your doctor may ask for blood and urine samples to test for the presence of a staph or strep infection. He or she may also ask to swab your vagina, cervix or throat for samples to be tested in the lab.

Toxic shock syndrome can also affect various organs of the body, hence your doctor may also ask for a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan, X-ray and lumbar puncture to see the extent of damage your body has been induced into.​​

Usually the patient has to be hospitalized to be treated for toxic shock syndrome. Your doctor will administer medications to treat the bacteria. You will also receive medicines to stabilize your blood pressure. The toxins produced by the staph or strep bacteria and accompanying hypotension may result in kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, you may need dialysis.

At times, surgery may also be needed to remove the non-living tissue from the infected area.​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.