Woman on her tampon trauma: "I almost lost my life"

Tampon (PHOTO: Gallo/Getty Images)
Tampon (PHOTO: Gallo/Getty Images)

Yet they do come with some dangers, like the one Kristina Makris (32) from Burlington in the US experienced. 

In a Facebook post she explained how she almost lost her life after getting toxic shock syndrome (TSS) from wearing a super-absorbent tampon.

This is her story.

“Five months ago this was me in ICU because of a tampon. I almost lost my life. It brings me to tears looking at this picture but I’m writing this to help people understand the risks of tampons. If you are a guy reading this, please continue because you may have a sister or daughter who could use some guidance.

When I was younger I would read the back of the tampon box about risks of TSS and thought I’m invincible that would never happen to me. Well, I was terribly wrong. At 32 years young I almost died.

There isn’t enough awareness about the risks of wearing a tampon. No, I never left it in more than 6-8 hours – super-absorbent tampons put you at a higher risk. What happens is the fibres start to develop bacteria then turn into a staph infection and the infection travels to your blood then to your organs and that’s when your body starts shutting down (I went septic).

Kristina Makris (PHOTO: Kristina Makris Facebook)

After my last period I started feeling under the weather. I could tell my body was trying to fight something. Then I developed a swollen lymph node on my left groin (I thought it was a pulled groin muscle). I felt I was getting a cold and every day got worse and worse. This went on for two weeks. Monday 15 January is the day I woke up and it all hit me. Flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, vomiting and a rash developed on my inner left thigh.

I’d just moved back home to my parents a week prior, and if it wasn’t for my mom I wouldn’t be here writing this post. The doctors told me if I didn’t come when I did I either would have lost limbs or worse . . . died.

I had surgery on my inner thigh where the infection localised. I was in the hospital for two weeks being pumped 24/7 with two kinds of antibiotics. I was pumped with bags and bags of fluid to raise my blood pressure – I had gained 30 pounds (about 13kg) of fluid. After a week of being bedridden I finally looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself.

When I was finally sent home the fight wasn’t over. I had an IV attached to my arm 24/7 pumping me with antibiotics along with a wound vacuum attached to my inner thigh 24/7. It took three months to physically get back to my normal life. Mentally I’m still struggling with the trauma. I’m not super vocal when it comes to the mental part but I really just want women to understand that this all happened from a f*** TAMPON. And if I could save someone from having to go through what I went through I will vocalise any time for anyone who wants to hear.”

Speaking to DRUM, Kristina said that she is now well again and has since recovered from the ordeal.

Tampons are made up of harsh chemicals which are usually considered risky for women’s health, according to Lifealth. They contain chlorine, pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to the skin.

Here are five tips that can help reduce TSS, according to Better Health.     

  • Always use the lowest possible absorbency tampon for your flow. 
  • Changes tampons at least every four to eight hours, and avoid wearing one to bed unless you plan on waking during the night to change it.
  •  Don’t use tampons if you have a skin infection near your genitals.
  •  Don’t use tampons for vaginal discharge, or any other reason, between menstrual cycles. Rather use panty liners or pads.
  •  Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after inserting tampons. Bacteria such as staphylococci are found commonly on the hands.

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