Tampons can kill.
I know that sounds ridiculous but it’s true. Although rare, toxic shock syndrome (TSS) can be life-threatening if it is not treated. Sadly this is something that one 15-year-old girl, Rylie Whitten, knows all too well.
A few weeks ago she began feeling ill and believed she was coming down with the flu. Little did Rylie know she was suffering from TSS and after all of her major organs shut down was almost killed as a result. Now she is fighting for her life in the hospital wing.
The causes of TSS are not fully understood, however, several risk factors have been identified. One of which is when a woman leaves a tampon in for a long time – it becomes absorbent and a breeding ground for bacteria.
The bacteria releases toxins that cause inflammation which interfere with the processes that regulate blood pressure, resulting in multiple organ failure like Rylie. The NHS say that for reasons unknown, “a small percentage of people do not develop the specific antibodies to fight the toxins.”
Any female can contract TSS, but according to PAMF women under the age of 19 are most susceptible.
Kylie’s father, Nate, talked about his daughter’s case to a local TV station in West Michigan, WZZM. He said:
“She’s young, healthy, never had any medical problems whatsoever. She was lying in bed, all of a sudden, she was moaning. This is not Rylie at all.”
Rylie has since been placed on intensive life support after doctors who discovered the medical infection said that it was one of the worst cases of TSS they had ever seen.
Now her life hangs in the balance, while people are rallying online to show their support. A Facebook group was set up called “Prayers for Rylie” for users to express their well wishes for the teen’s speedy recovery.
Nate told People that although Rylie was seriously ill, doctors were able to detect her illness early, which could potentially save her life. He said:
“Right now she’s completely off the ventilator – she’s breathing on her own – and her heart is beating on its own.
We’re so lucky we caught it when we did, otherwise she wouldn’t be with us.”
Kylie’s future looked grim but she is now expected to return to normal health with time. However, for many sufferers this is sadly not the case. We therefore need to do more to educate ourselves and others about its very real and potentially deadly threat.