Sisters almost die within days of each other due to using wrong kind of tampon
'We were at the hospital around the clock.'
Two fit and healthy sisters were left fighting for their lives after using the same type of ‘super plus’ tampon.
Just 30 days later, her sister, Jaya, 17, developed the same infection and was also admitted to hospital.
Their devastated mum, Javon, 46, described the ordeal: ‘We honestly thought we were going to lose them.
‘My husband and I just stood there in shock.
‘We couldn’t believe this had actually happened to us again. What are the odds?’
Javon, from Indiana, USA, says her eldest daughter, Devine, had just finished her period in May 2022 when she came down with symptoms similar to a cold. She experienced nausea and a high fever.
But soon, she was unable to walk without help and two days later, ended up in the hospital.
After blood tests revealed Devine had septic shock, she was treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) for seven days. She was later told by the family doctor at a follow-up appointment that the infection was caused by a tampon.
But the family’s horror was far from over. Just a month later, Jaya – the second eldest sibling – also became unwell.
The family were on holiday in Florida in early July when Jaya experienced similar symptoms to her sister, but Javon assumed it was down to heatstroke.
They took her to hospital, but Jaya was sent home with ibuprofen for a viral infection. It was only when she later passed out and was rushed back to hospital.
Javon says Jaya was on her period and had recently used a tampon for the first time – from the same box as her older sister.
‘She had only used tampons for the very first time in the last two days,’ says Javon. ‘She just wanted to use it to go swimming [on holiday].
‘The doctors said she had used the super plus absorbency when she didn’t need. They contain a different kind of chemical with a higher potency, and she shouldn’t have used that.’
Javon says watching both her daughters fight for their lives within a month of each other was devastating.
Javon said: ‘It was a deja vu moment when we got the same diagnosis for [Jaya] just 30 days later.
‘My husband and I were at the hospital around the clock. We could not leave her.
‘They were both in really bad shape. It was a touchy situation because their organs were inflamed and at risk of shutting down.
‘We were watching the monitors constantly.
What you need to know about sepsis
‘Poppy’s story is a stark reminder that Sepsis can affect anyone at any time.
‘Women during or immediately after pregnancy are at slightly increased risk of this life-threatening condition, which arises when the body’s response to an infection begins to cause organ damage.
‘It’s important that women who are pregnant are aware of sepsis and know what to do if they’re worried.
‘If you’re worried that you have an infection, and something doesn’t feel quite right or you’re getting worse rather than better, look for the following signs:
S for slurred speech or confusion
E for extreme pain in the muscles or joints
P for passing no urine in a day
S for severe breathlessness
I for “it feels like I’m going to die”
S for skin that’s mottled, discoloured or very pale
Any one of these six in the context of infection go straight to A&E.’
Dr Ron Daniels, BEMFounder and Joint CEO of UK Sepsis Trust
‘We just got one kid out of the ICU, who is still recovering, and now we’ve got another kid who was about to start this process again, but she looked worse.’
Javon explains that neither of her daughters diagnosis were due to the length of time they were using each tampon for.
‘They diagnosed Jaya while she was in the hospital because she was on her cycle but she did not have a tampon in,’ she explains.
‘Devine had always used them. I don’t know if it was this particular package, as they did use the same box.
‘It was more to do with the chemicals than the length of time they had them in for. They both didn’t sleep with them in.’
Now, Javon says the girls are still on the road to recovery.
Javon said: ‘The recovery was slow as they were very weak and it took a lot out of them.
‘Their stamina was slower. It has now been about a year and they’ve gotten better, but initially they had to do things very slowly.’
‘They don’t use tampons anymore. The family doctor and the doctor in Florida said they can’t use them.
What is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?
TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is very rare condition caused by toxins getting into the blood stream and releasing dangerous toxins. It can affect anyone of any age but is most frequently associated with tampon use in young women. It can be fatal but it caught early it is treatable with antibiotics.
The causes of TSS
TSS is caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus. It usually lives harmlessly on the surface of the skin and but if it gets into the blood stream it can release toxins that can disturb the function of vital organs.
How to prevent TSS
According to the NHS:
– choose a tampon with the lowest absorbency suitable for your menstrual flow
– swap tampons for a sanitary towel or panty liner during your period
– wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon
– change tampons regularly never insert more than one tampon at a time
– insert a new tampon first thing before going to bed and change it first thing in the morning
‘They’re not sure why but they don’t think they can handle the potency of the tampons. He reckons they never will.’
Javon says she prefers her daughters not to use tampons. ‘We don’t keep them in the house,’ she says.
Javon is now calling on other mothers and girls to pay attention to the different sizes of tampons, advising those with light cycles not to use the super plus variety of the sanitary product.
‘I wish people would pay attention to the different kinds of tampons. There are regular and super and super plus, but if you don’t really need the super plus, don’t use them.
‘We were told by the infection control doctor in Florida that if you have light cycles you don’t need a super plus.
‘I would just not recommend tampons at all at this point.’
Now, the family are trying to put the ordeal behind them. Javon said: ‘My husband and I are grateful both of them survived it.’
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