A family shares their story of losing their daughter to toxic shock syndrome from tampon usage, to raise awareness about the infection and what can be done to avoid it.
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) has always been the prime warning of tampon usage.
However, the Roberts family have never heard of it and sadly, it led to the death of their 13-year-old daughter, Jemma-Louise.
As a competitive swimmer, Jemma-Louise started using tampons as they allowed her to continue training even when she is menstruating.
During a family vacation, Jemma-Louise started to feel ill, but was simply diagnosed with a stomach bug.
When her condition got worse, her family took her to a hospital, where she was then diagnosed with TSS caused by bacteria related to using tampons. A week later, she died of a brain bleeding while on a heart and lung machine. Blood tests before she died showed evidence of the staphylococcus bacteria, linked to TSS and sepsis.
Since then, the Roberts have been sharing their daughter’s story to raise awareness about TSS, particular though fundraisers for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where Jemma-Louise was treated.
Speaking to Yahoo! Parenting, Aaron Glatt, MD, spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America said that while TSS is something to be aware of, “certainly tampons are safe to use”. He advised to avoid more absorbent tampons — people tend to think that since those tampons can hold heavier a flow, it can be left in for longer periods of time.
Generally, tampons should be changed out every four to six hours. If you are unsure, there are other ways you can turn to, to manage your menstruation.
TSS is rare, with only about one in every 100,000 women who uses tampon contracting it every year. Nevertheless, it is fatal.
Look out for symptoms such as:
- Sudden high fever
- Muscle aches
During your visit to the doctor — which should be immediate — let them know that you have recently used tampons as symptoms may resemble those of a flu, or in Jemma-Louise’s case, a stomach bug.
If your daughter has just gotten her first period, or is at an age where she could potentially start menstruating, it is important to educate her about it. Her mother, aunt or a trusted female teacher should be her main source of information as they have first-hand experience and knowledge about menstruation.
What is your experience with your daughter’s first period like? Share with other mums in the comments below!