According to a recent study conducted by the University of Colorado, children diagnosed with sinus infections may be at risk for developing toxic shock syndrome.  Most people are only familiar with toxic shock syndrome because of the warnings that come along with tampon use, but men and children also can be affected by the serious health problem.

Toxic shock syndrome is caused by toxins produced by bacteria, and some cases had been previously seen following sinus surgery, but the research suggests that as much as 20 percent of children who are diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome were diagnosed following a sinus infection.

“Prompt imaging studies of the sinuses is mandatory when no apparent cause of toxic shock syndrome is found,” said Dr. Kenny Chan of the University of Colorado and the Children’s Hospital of Denver.

The study was published in the Archives of Otolaryngology, and research was led by Dr. Chan. The research team analyzed the medical records of 76 children with toxic shock syndrome between 1983 and 2000.

“It is imperative that physicians, particularly those who are providing intensive care to children, recognize that rhinosinusitis can be the sole cause of toxic shock syndrome in children,” Chan and colleagues wrote.

Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle Pain
  • Organ Failure

If your child develops any of these symptoms after a cold or sinus infection, seek immediate medical care. Toxic shock syndrome is often misdiagnosed because of its rarity, and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Ramie A Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT