A woman who almost died after forgetting to remove a tampon wants her terrifying experience to serve as a warning to others.
Kelsey Foster, 29, had used tampons since she first got her period and was unaware of any potentially lethal dangers from their use.
The beauty influencer had heard of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), she did not take much notice of the tiny printed warnings that come with women’s sanitary packets.
Then one day, the woman from Newcastle went to the bathroom and felt something ‘plonk’ out of her.
She initially thought it was a blood clot, which she is prone to, ‘But it was an old tampon,’ she told news.com.au.
‘I’m not sure how long it had been inside me, but it must have been at least six weeks ago, as that is when my last period was,’ she said.
Ms Forster said there needs to be a lot more awareness about TSS and that the general silence around talking about periods can lead to danger.
‘It is a deadly condition, and your body can shut down within 24-48 hours. It is no joke,’ she said.
‘Toxic shock is real, it is deadly and it is way more common than we think.’
Ms Foster suffers from several medical conditions, including gallbladder and liver problems and endometriosis, where tissue, similar to the lining of the womb, grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
She had recently been in and out of hospital with her other conditions and initially mistook the severe cramps she was experiencing as being due to them – not realising it was TSS.
The stress and lack of sleep caused by her other medical issues was what caused her to forget about the tampon, she thinks.
The businesswoman kept the tampon to show her doctors, which allowed them to run tests and confirm she was suffering from TSS.
The doctors told her she was lucky she didn’t die from the condition, she said.
She is thankful she found the tampon when she did, otherwise she might not have been around to tell the story.
Her advice to other women using tampons is to find out more about TSS and to keep track of when they have inserted them – doing so could save their lives.
Ms Foster also had a very dangerous medical episode late last year when she was hospitalised in Bali with a leg injury that left her in a wheelchair.
She was enjoying the trip of a lifetime when she tore a ligament in her ankle after slipping on a tile in the notorious Legion Street shopping district.
Then shortly after the accident, she got a huge tattoo on her leg that became infected due to her ankle injury.
Luckily, Ms Foster had got travel insurance at the last minute before her trip.
‘I got emergency flown home business class back to Australia. The tickets alone for it were over $4,000 + over $1,000 in meds and scans for me in Indonesia,’ she said at the time.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Ms Foster seeking further comment.
What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
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’ prevalence 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.
Symptoms usually begin with a sudden high fever – a temperature above 38.9°C.
Within a few hours a sufferer will develop flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle aches, a sore throat and cough.
Nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, feeling faint, dizziness and confusion are also symptoms.
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.
Dialysis may also be needed if the kidneys stop functioning.
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.