Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 4/17/2019

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a severe illness that can cause widespread organ dysfunction. TSS has been associated with certain bacterial infections.

Associates symptoms and signs of toxic shock syndrome can include high fever, chills, low blood pressure, rash, skin peeling, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, headache, fatigue, vomiting, trouble breathing, muscle aches, problems with blood clotting, and problems with kidney and liver function. Kidney failure can lead to insufficient urine production.

Causes of toxic shock syndrome

Exotoxins secreted by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria cause toxic shock syndrome. Some early outbreaks were described in women who used tampons during menstruation, but the majority of cases do not arise from tampon use. Other possible risk factors for developing TSS include deep wound infections and decreased immune function.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/17/2019

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