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Student, 18, ‘nearly died’ after doctors sent her home from hospital believing she had toxic shock syndrome

A teenager has revealed how she nearly died after doctors sent her home from hospital with ‘new flu’ when she actually had toxic shock syndrome.

Ellie Makin, 18, Droylsden, Greater Manchester, had fallen asleep ‘drunk’ with a tampon in after a night out and woke up the next day with flu-like symptoms, nausea and dizziness.

After she passed out, she was rushed to North Durham University Hospital by her university welfare team.

But she was discharged after just three hours, saying doctors “rejected” her concerns about toxic shock and attributed her symptoms to a viral infection resulting from going out drinking during newer university celebrations.

But after traveling back to her parents’ home, she woke up the next day with worse symptoms and was taken to Tameside General Hospital, where she was confirmed to be in toxic shock – a life-threatening condition often associated with the use of tampons.

After recovering in hospital for five days, the climate science student is now urging other teens to “trust their gut” and get a second opinion if they feel they’ve been dismissed as a “drunk student.”

“It had been cooler and I was going out quite a bit and I was starting to feel really exhausted with flu-like symptoms,” explained Ellie.

“My Apple Watch showed my heart rate was 120 when it was normally 55, so that was worrying and I also felt dizzy and nauseous.

“I had fallen asleep drunk with a tampon in and left it in for 12 hours, so I googled my symptoms and knew it was toxic shock.

Ellie Makin, 18, Droylsden, Greater Manchester, had fallen asleep 'drunk' with a tampon in after a night out and woke up the next day with flu-like symptoms, nausea and dizziness.

Ellie Makin, 18, Droylsden, Greater Manchester, had fallen asleep ‘drunk’ with a tampon in after a night out and woke up the next day with flu-like symptoms, nausea and dizziness.

After traveling back to her parents' home, she woke up the next day with worse symptoms and was taken to Tameside General Hospital, where she was confirmed to be in toxic shock - a life-threatening condition often associated with the use of drugs. tampons.

After traveling back to her parents' home, she woke up the next day with worse symptoms and was taken to Tameside General Hospital, where she was confirmed to be in toxic shock - a life-threatening condition often associated with the use of drugs. tampons.

After traveling back to her parents’ home, she woke up the next day with worse symptoms and was taken to Tameside General Hospital, where she was confirmed to be in toxic shock – a life-threatening condition often associated with the use of drugs. tampons.

‘I told my mother and she called 911 and they came to my door. When I opened the door I passed out, so they took me to the hospital.

“I had blood drawn and they told me my white blood cell count was high, but they couldn’t determine where the infection was coming from, so they just wrote it off as a viral infection and they fired me.

“I knew it wasn’t a viral infection because I was dizzy and passed out – I said I was afraid it was toxic shock and told them about the tampon, but they didn’t do anything about it.

“I feel like I was fired — they should have done the tests and not just the freshman flu.”

The rash on Elli's skin, a symptom of toxic shock - doctors sent her home with Fresher's Flu

The rash on Elli's skin, a symptom of toxic shock - doctors sent her home with Fresher's Flu

The rash on Elli’s skin, a symptom of toxic shock – doctors sent her home with Fresher’s Flu

The teen now claims she is dealing with relatively unknown long-term effects of the condition, including rapid hair loss, which leaves her with a thinning hairline and flaky skin on her hands and feet.

The teen now claims she is dealing with relatively unknown long-term effects of the condition, including rapid hair loss, which leaves her with a thinning hairline and flaky skin on her hands and feet.

The teen now claims she is dealing with relatively unknown long-term effects of the condition, including rapid hair loss, which leaves her with a thinning hairline and flaky skin on her hands and feet.

The teen says her mother was discharged without treatment after just three hours in Durham Hospital and picked her up and took her home.

WHAT IS TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME?

Toxic shock syndrome is a very dangerous bacterial infection – but it can be misdiagnosed because its 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, enter the bloodstream and release dangerous toxins.

The prevalence of TSS is unclear, but doctors have claimed it affects about one or two in every 100,000 women.

It has a death rate of five to fifteen percent. And reoccurs in 30 to 40 percent of cases.

Symptoms usually begin with a sudden high fever – a temperature above 38.9°C/102°F.

Within a few hours, a patient will develop flu-like symptoms, including headache, muscle aches, sore throat, and cough.

Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, dizziness and confusion are also symptoms.

Women are most at risk of developing toxic shock syndrome during menstruation and especially if they use tampons, have recently given birth, or use an internal barrier contraceptive such as a diaphragm.

Although tampon boxes advise changing them between 4 and 8 a.m., it is common for women to forget about them and leave them overnight.

Treatment may include 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 working.

In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove dead tissue. In rare cases, 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 sanitary napkin, and wash their hands before and after insertion.

Tampons should also be changed regularly, as directed on the package — usually every four to eight hours.

When her symptoms worsened the next day, the couple went to Tameside Hospital where it was confirmed that Ellie had toxic shock syndrome, a condition caused by bacteria entering the body and releasing harmful toxins.

The worrying revelation that the student had nearly missed her diagnosis of the fatal condition made her “angry” at the way doctors at Durham Hospital “fired” her.

She spent five days recovering in Tameside Hospital and was treated with IV drip and antibiotics.

Ellie said: ‘The next day it got worse – my heart rate was 130 while I was lying, my temperature was 40 degrees and I had a rash like sunburn all over my body.

“I was concerned when doctors at Tameside Hospital said it was toxic shock, but at the same time it was a relief that they really listened to me and I could get the treatment I needed.

“If there had even been a chance, it could have been a toxic shock. Durham Hospital should have run more tests, especially since I left the tampon in for so long.

“I’m just glad it hasn’t evolved into the more serious form, because you could end up on a ventilator or have fingers and toes amputated.

“They said it’s a deadly disease and you’re lucky you got it now. It was scary and annoyed me with how Durham Hospital treated me.”

The teen now claims she is dealing with relatively unknown long-term effects of the condition, including rapid hair loss, which leaves her with a thinning hairline and flaky skin on her hands and feet.

Ellie fears these effects could last for up to six months after she joined online support groups of people recovering from toxic shock syndrome and documented the same struggles.

After her terrifying experience, she now swears to be extra careful with tampons and urges others to do the same and make sure they are diagnosed if they have symptoms of toxic shock.

Ellie said, “I’ll still use tampons, but I’ll definitely be a lot more careful about how long I leave them in now.

“You learned it in school, but you never think it will happen to you, because it’s so rare.

‘You should always go with your gut feeling and get a second opinion when you’re discharged by a doctor.

“Even if you have the slightest symptoms, it’s best to go and have a look, because it’s a deadly disease.”

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘There have been instances where a patient develops further symptoms after leaving the care of our emergency department which would support a specific diagnosis.

“We encourage patients to return to the hospital for further investigation when new symptoms appear or existing symptoms persist.

“We are sorry that Ellie is not happy with the care she has received and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this and her general experience with her, if she finds it helpful.”

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