Medical Definition of Toxic shock syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Toxic shock syndrome: A grave condition occurring predominantly in menstruating women using tampons, toxic shock is characterized by a highly toxic state (with sudden high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aching) followed by low blood pressure (hypotension) which can lead to shock (and death). There may be a rash resembling sunburn with peeling of skin. The Channing Laboratory in Boston under Dr. Edw. Kass discovered that toxic shock was due to a toxin produced by Staph (Staphylococcus) aureus bacteria growing under conditions with little or no oxygen. The syndrome occurs rarely in women not using tampons and in men.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018