Published: 08:07 EDT, 10 October 2020 | Updated: 09:35 EDT, 10 October 2020
A mother-of-one has told how she nearly died from toxic shock syndrome after forgetting about a tampon for five days.
Amy Williams, 24, from Basildon, Essex, was left hospitalised and fighting for her life when she accidentally left the sanitary product inside her, causing it to turn black and smell.
Toxic shock syndrome can cause the body to go into septic shock, a serious case of sepsis, which can cause multiple organ failure and eventually death if left untreated.
The personal assistant is now speaking out to raise awareness of the rare, life-threatening condition in the hope that other women do not experience the same trauma.
Amy Williams, 24, from Basildon, Essex, pictured, was left hospitalised and fighting for her life when she accidentally left the sanitary product inside her, causing it to turn black and smell
Toxic shock syndrome can cause the body to go into septic shock, a serious case of sepsis, which can cause multiple organ failure and eventually death if left untreated. Pictured: Amy during her week in hospital fighting for her life
Amy, who works for the leader of Basildon Council, says: ‘I had heard of toxic shock syndrome but didn’t think it would ever happen to me.
‘I’d been using tampons for 10 years, but I’ll never use one again now. I want to warn women and young girls to be extra careful when using them.’
In June 2019, Amy was on a night out with her boyfriend Samuel Mullen, 30, an IT account manager, when she went to the toilet to change her tampon.
When she couldn’t find the string or feel the tampon, she thought didn’t have one in, so she applied another.
The personal assistant is now speaking out to raise awareness of the rare, life-threatening condition in the hope that other women do not experience the same trauma. Pictured with her boyfriend Samuel Mullen and son Archie
She says: ‘I was really drunk at the time and couldn’t remember if I already had one in. Plus I couldn’t locate it.’
She says: ‘It smelt like death and it wasn’t normal. So I got in the shower to wash, but the smell was still there after I got out and dried myself.
‘I laid down on the bed and checked inside myself. I felt something with my fingernail and it dawned on me that there was a tampon inside me. I was mortified.’
In June 2019, Amy was on a night out (pictured left) with her boyfriend Samuel, right, when she went to the toilet to change her tampon
Amy (pictured with boyfriend Samuel) admitted she was really drunk and couldn’t feel the tampon inside her, so she inserted another one – meaning the first one went undetected for five days
The tampon had turned on its side and it took Amy half an hour to remove it – nearly passing out from the pain.
She says: ‘When it came out, I felt an overwhelming rush, like I was going to faint. The tampon was black. It was disgusting.’
Two days later, while at work, Amy began to feel nauseas and a colleague commented that she ‘looked like she was on death’s door’.
She was rushed to A&E at Basildon University Hospital and her temperature was a dangerous 40 degrees.
Amy was rushed to A&E at Basildon University Hospital (pictured there during her recovery) and her temperature was a dangerous 40 degrees. Upon arrival, she started vomiting – and her organs began to fail
Amy recalls: ‘They rushed me to a ward and hooked me up to an antibiotic drip while they took blood tests.
‘I’d told staff I’d left a tampon in for five days and they looked worried. I was then informed that my CPR levels were 264, the normal amount was five.’
By this point, Amy’s organs had started to fail and she had gone into septic shock. Shortly after she was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome.
She says: ‘The doctor said to me that if I’d had gone home that day, I wouldn’t have woken up. I was terrified.
‘I cried to the nurse and asked her if I’d ever see my three-year-old son Archie again. She reassured me I was in good hands.’
Since then Amy has suffered heavy and irregular periods and she was even warned it could affect her chances of conceiving. Thankfully, a year on, she is now expecting her second child. She says: ‘I couldn’t believe a tampon nearly killed me’
For the next four days, Amy slipped in and out of consciousness while her body was pumped full of antibiotics to fight the blood poisoning.
Thankfully, after nearly a week in hospital, she was discharged. But she continued to be monitored at home and was on a course of antibiotics for 10 days.
Since then Amy has suffered heavy and irregular periods and she was even warned it could affect her chances of conceiving.
Thankfully, a year on, she is now expecting her second child. She says: ‘I couldn’t believe a tampon nearly killed me.
‘I’ll never use one again and now only use sanitary towels. Please, be careful when using tampons. It nearly cost me my life.’
Toxic shock syndrome is a highly dangerous bacterial infection – but it can be misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to other illnesses and because it is so rare.
It occurs when usually harmless staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and release dangerous toxins.
TSS’ prevalance is unclear but doctors have claimed it affects around one or two in every 100,000 women.
It has a mortality rate of between five and 15 per cent. And reoccurs in 30-to-40 per cent of cases.
Within a few hours a sufferer will develop flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle aches, a sore throat and cough.
Women are most at risk of getting toxic shock syndrome during menstruation and particularly if they are using tampons, have recently given birth or are using an internal barrier contraceptive, such as a diaphragm.
While tampon boxes advise to change them between four to eight hours, it is common for women to forget and leave them in overnight.
Treatment may involve antibiotics to fight the infection, oxygen to help with breathing, fluids to prevent dehydration and organ damage, and medication to control blood pressure.
In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove dead tissue. In rare incidences, it may be necessary to amputate the affected area.
To prevent TSS, women should use tampons with the lowest absorbency for their flow, alternate between a tampon and a sanitary towel, and wash their hands before and after insertion.
Tampons should also be changed regularly, as directed on the packaging – usually every four to eight hours.
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Tampon, Sepsis, Toxic shock syndrome
World news – GB – Mother nearly died from TSS after forgetting about a tampon for 5 days