Model Goes Public on Toxic Shock Tampons
Lauren Wasser wants you to know what advertisements for tampons are not revealing — that Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) from the use of tampons can kill.
Five years ago, when she was 24 years old, the model suddenly became very ill with a fever of 107 degrees. Paramedics found her collapsed on her floor, unresponsive and covered in her own waste and vomit.
A doctor at the ER found she had TSS-1 (toxic shock syndrome), a bacterial infection that has been associated with super-absorbent tampons. TSS-1 often attacks young women who have been wearing a tampon too long.
Gangrene had developed in her right leg, and Wasser had to have it amputated below the knee. Wasser says that toxic shock syndrome may eventually take her damaged left leg, as well.
While ads on TV for feminine hygiene products often show women involved in sports or frolicking at the beach, that message doesn’t go far enough, Wasser says, especially since a woman may use close to 17,000 tampons in her life.
How Common is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare, but serious and sometimes fatal, disease associated with the use of menstrual tampons occurring in one to 17 cases per 100,000 users.
According to the Center4research.org, TSS-1 incidents reached a peak in 1980 with 814 cases reported in the U.S. including 38 deaths. After that time, manufacturers removed three of four synthetic ingredients which increased absorption but were linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
If you develop a sudden fever and vomiting, diarrhea, fainting or near fainting, dizziness, a rash that appears as a sunburn, or develop seizures, you should remove the tampon immediately.
The FDA also advises using the minimum absorbency tampon needed to control the flow and is telling manufacturers that the range of absorbency needs to be on the package. The FDA also suggests to alternate the use of sanitary napkins with tampons during a period.
The Dangers of TSS-1
The hospital put Wasser in a medically induced coma as her organs began shutting down. Wasser’s blood pressure was unstable, and her fever was out of control. She suffered a heart attack and a burning sensation in her hands and feet. Wasser was put on life support.
Fluids were given to stabilize her blood pressure, but during the week, her limbs didn’;t get the blood supply they needed. They were gangrenous and black. She ballooned to 200 lbs. and filled with fluids.
Wasser says her legs were her life. Certainly, as an athlete, they sustained her in sports. In modeling, they sustained her career.
Now Lauren Wasser considers herself not just a model and actress, but an activist. She spoke out recently in an InStyle interview and has appeared on YouTube putting a young face on this issue.
Wasser reminds women that there are alternatives such as menstrual pads, all-cotton tampons, and reusable menstrual cups.
Wasser’s mother has sued Kimberly-Clark Corporation which makes Kotex Natural Balance tampons. She and her legal team argue that the recommendation to leave a tampon in overnight could mean longer than eight hours. The warning should say, “Do not sleep while using a tampon,” says Wasser’s legal team.
Lauren wants tampons to carry a warning like cigarettes. Had she known, she says she would never have used tampons.
If you have suffered from personal injuries or toxic shock syndrome due to a female health product that was not properly labeled, then a Florida personal injury attorney can help.