Amy Elifritz: Toxic Shock Syndrome Awareness

Amy Elifritz, 10/16/89 – 6/13/10

Maxim Hygiene is pleased to announce our first call to action amongst women everywhere to learn about and help with You ARE Loved, a developing non-profit committed to educating women about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). You ARE Loved was started by this month’s Fierce Woman, Lisa Elifritz, after her daughter, Amy, passed away from TSS at 20 years old.

In support of Lisa’s initiatives, we have posted the information from her promotional pamphlet below:

Amy’s Story

Amy was a healthy 20 year old, whose symptoms were initially very mild and did not cause any undue concern. On Wednesday afternoon prior to her death, she developed a fever and began vomiting. After an ibuprofen, her temperature quickly returned to normal. She assumed a flu bug had run its course. Amy was able to chat on her computer and watch TV that night, she went to sleep easily.

Thursday morning, Amy felt somewhat better; her vomiting had ended, but she had developed diarrhea. She drank orange juice and 7-up to stay hydrated.

Friday morning, Amy woke up very weak with a sore throat and sore muscles so her mother took her to Prompt Med as soon as it opened. Her blood pressure was low and her pulse rate high, so it was recommended that she go directly to the ER for hydration. When she arrived at the hospital, they immediately began fluids and did blood work only to discover her kidneys were at 25% function. Amy was admitted.

Saturday Amy’s condition had worsened. She had become septic and was moved to CCU where more aggressive treatment began. Within hours she developed fluid in her lungs, was sedated and put on a ventilator.

By Sunday morning, the stress on Amy’s body began to take its toll on her heart. She had two episodes throughout the day that required her heart to be shocked back into rhythm. A third heart episode proved to be more than her body could with stand.

Amy died Sunday night June 13, 2010, at 10:55 PM.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome develops when the common bacteria, Staphylococcus Aureus, produce a toxin which is absorbed into the bloodstream. The toxin rapidly overwhelms the immune system and attacks the major organs, leading to kidney failure, collapse of the lungs and in severe cases, cardiac arrest. Alarmingly, half of all known cases of Toxic Shock are women using TAMPONS.

Symptoms of TSS

  • Sore throat.
  • Aching muscles
  • High temperature; over 102F
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Red rash
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Very low blood pressure

Only one or two symptoms may occur. They do not necessarily occur all at once and may not persist

What You Should Do

  • Remove the tampon (save it if possible).
  • Seek IMMEDIATE medical attention.
  • Inform the doctor that you have been using tampons.
  • Take a TSS information leaflet with you.


What Causes TSS?

There are two types of TSS, one is caused by Staphylococcus aureus and the other type occurs during menstruation with the use of tampons. Vaginal tampons, especially those containing any synthetic ingredients like viscose rayon, create the physical-chemical conditions that allow for TSST-1 toxin production to degrees dependent upon the composition of the tampon and the environment it creates. Research clearly shows that the toxins of Staphylococcus aureus are amplified by these tampons (the tampon connection)

After Effects of TSS?

Survivors of Toxic Shock Syndrome may have been hospitalized for weeks and there is usually a long recovery period. They may have suffered:

  • Loss of fingers and toes due to gangrene.
  • Permanent kidney and liver damage.
  • Deafness and blindness.
  • Peeling skin, and loss of nails and hair.
  • Continual infections
  • Short term memory loss.
  • No energy for months or even years.
  • Psychological and emotional distress

To Reduce the Risk of TSS

  • Only use tampons made of organic cotton
  • Use the lowest absorbency needed at each stage of your period.
  • Avoid using tampons continuously during a period. Alternate with sanitary pads, particularly at night.
  • Use a pad at the end of your period. Change tampons every 4 to 6 hours.
  • Don’t use tampons if you’ve had any unusual discharge.
  • Wash your hands before and after use and handle the tampon as little as possible.
  • Alert your family and friends to the symptoms and emergency action required.
  • Read and keep this information leaflet or the leaflet inside the tampon packet.
  • If you’ve ever had TSS, NEVER EVER use tampons again!

Incidence of TSS

TSS is real, it’s common, and it kills: 1 in 700 women will get tampon related TSS in their lifetime. It’s estimated that nationwide 5,000 to 10,000 cases of staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome now occur each year, making it as common as Lyme disease. TSS can strike any woman or girl without warning and can act so rapidly that more fatalities among tampon users are inevitable.

TSS now occurs and affects primarily young otherwise healthy women.

Communication is essential. Health and safety information on leaflets should be read regularly to identify if any new, crucial information is presented. Young girls must discuss with their parent when they decide to use tampons. Someone else should know when tampons are used so that prompt action can be taken if the sufferer is unable to help herself.

The Bottom Line

If you have been using tampons and you experience flu-like symptoms and a fever, remove your tampon and go to the hospital immediately. Insist on getting blood work. If it is caught early enough, you have a much better chance of survival.

**Please note Maxim Hygiene is proud to support our friends in their endeavors to keep women Soft, Safe and Natural. Maxim Hygiene is not responsible or liable for the actions and accuracy of the messages created by our friends.

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17 thoughts on “Amy Elifritz: Toxic Shock Syndrome Awareness


    1. I survived TSS in 1999 and lost only 8 of my 10 toes. I would love to connect with anyone that could shed light on any ongoing heath issues they may have had…I’ve dealt with a lot from nacrosis of bone to arthritis to tooth loss…..would love to get another’s perspective.

  2. On Friday Feb.10th, 2012 my daugher Koryn called me from school and said she was so cold and vomiting. I quickly picked her up from school her fever was over 102 her body hurt all over. She went to the doctor on sat the 11th and agreed it was just the flu. Sunday the 12th she was complaining that her tummy hurt and it burned so bad for her to go to the bathroom. Her fever rose to 103.6. I took her to the emergency room where her blood pressure was 77/35 and her pulse was 130-140’s. she than broke out with an all over body rash. The doctor quickly responded and felt she had TSS he started her on antibiotics and blood pressure medication. She was on 3.5 liters of oxygen. She was airlifted to DMC Childrens Hospital Detroit and put in the PICU. I thank god that she survived! I am so sorry for any who have loss a famly member to this silent killer. Koryn was hospitallized for a week and was weak for the following week after she was released from the hospital. She is a survivor and hope she is able to share her experience with other women so we can notice this deadly bacteria and silent killer.

  3. A few days ago I was feeling rather ill, and being that I was on my period I just wrote it off as that. I started to get dizzy to the point that I fainted and my husband brought me to the emergency room. I had TSS. I normally didnt use Tampons often, but because of the heat wave I thought it would be more comfortable. I’m on medication now to help, and have since been released from the hospital. I guess.. I’m worried about to what expect now that I’m reocovering?

    1. Hi Jennifer, Thank you for sharing your story! We’re glad to hear you’re on your way to recovery and what a great first question to be asking. We definitely suggest contacting your general physician with the same question, but also want to suggest visiting This is a wonderful non-profit started by Lisa Elifritz, a mother who tragically lost her 20 year old Amy Elifritz to TSS. You ARE Loved offers a plethora of support for TSS victims. If you’d like, we can put you directly in touch with Lisa; just email us at We’re here to support you!

      I can also tell you that it is recommended that once TSS occurs tampons not be used again. Although tampons tend to be the preferred choice, Maxim’s sanitary pads are extremely popular and of the safest and highest quality available. They are made with modern designs for the best protection against leaks and most comfort. We’d be happy to send some free samples out to you; either post your address here or submit your request via

      Stay cool and healthy this summer and please keep in touch!

    1. Hey there! Thank you for taking the time to read about this life threatening syndrome. Most of the information found on that post was actually composed by Amy’s mother and the wonderful non-profit, You ARE Loved, she started in honor of Amy. We were touched by her story and wanted to support her endeavor, especially since there is research that supports that 100% cotton tampons like Maxim Hygiene tampons are less likely to cause TSS. Keeping women healthy is our major goal; thanks for taking part in that by visiting our blog!

  4. Hi. I am a TSS survivor as well. I had it when I was 15 years old, eighteen years ago.. I spent 2 and a half weeks in the ICU until I was well enough to go home. I was put on a ventilator and my organs were failing. I was in a coma for 5 of those days. I was lucky because they called in a team of doctors and one of them said he has seen my symptoms only once before, 10 years prior and he thought it was TSS. He treated me as such because it would have been days before the tests could confirm if it was in fact TSS or not. I did not have days, I was dying. Thank god that doctor was right and saved my life. I will never, ever use a tampon again. I am thankful that I have no lasting effects from my experience and was completely healed. I am thankful to have survived. I enjoy every single day and I have amazing family and doctors to thank for that,


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