By Susan Chow, PhD, ELS
Although toxic shock syndrome is rare, it is potentially fatal and patients displaying possible symptoms should be managed in a thorough and timely manner.
Patients are usually admitted to hospital and many need intensive care for the necessary interventions, including intravenous antibiotics, ventilation and symptomatic support.
Removal of Foreign Body
The initial step in the management of a patient with toxic shock syndrome is to remove any material that may be responsible for the growth of the infection.
Women who are menstruating and using a tampon are commonly associated with this illness and any tampon should be removed immediately. Other materials, such as vaginal sponges or nasal packing should also be removed if present.
Drainage of Infection
Following the removal of foreign materials from the body, the infection site should be drained to reduce the colonization of the bacteria. If the majority of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is drained out of the body, the toxins it produces will not affect the body and cause symptoms of shock.
Recent surgery sites may be responsible for causing toxic shock syndrome and should be drained. In most cases, wound drainage and cleaning is sufficient but in severe cases surgical removal of body tissue may be necessary.
As bacteria are the primary cause of toxic shock syndrome, antibiotics are indicated to help control the infection. Given the severity of the condition, such that it can be fatal in a matter of hours, antibiotics are routinely administered intravenously to provide faster and more comprehensive results.
Some patients may also require administration of immunoglobulin in addition to the antibiotics. This contains concentrated antibodies from donated human blood that helps to fight the toxins produced by the bacteria that are causing the symptoms.
Other Management Techniques
Each patient suffering from toxic shock syndrome presents with a unique situation that needs specific management to be addressed. As a result, there are various other management techniques widely used, but are not necessary for all cases.
Intravenous administration of fluid is commonly practiced to prevent dehydration. This is particularly useful to prevent organ damage as a result of toxic shock syndrome.
Some patients may experience severe malfunction of the kidney, such that they are unable to successfully filter urine of their own accord. In this instance, dialysis may be required to help them filter urine and excrete unneeded electrolytes.
Blood pressure can also vary considerably as a result of the shock and specific medications are often needed to manage this.
Additionally, some patients require hyperbaric oxygen administration to help support breathing and ensure adequate supply of oxygen to the bodily organs.
Last Updated: Jun 4, 2015