A teenager claims she ‘could have died’ when she was allegedly sent home from hospital with ‘freshers flu’ – only for it to turn out to be toxic shock syndrome after she fell asleep without taking out her tampon.
Ellie Makin had ‘drunkenly’ fallen asleep, before waking up with flu-like symptoms, nausea and dizziness.
The 18-year-old was rushed to The University Hospital of North Durham by her uni welfare team when she fainted on October 6, where she claims she told them about the tampon.
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She says she was discharged after three hours, with her symptoms put down to a viral infection.
After travelling back to her family home, she woke up the following day with worse symptoms and was taken to Tameside General Hospital, where it was confirmed that she had toxic shock – a life-threatening condition often associated with tampon use.
Ellie was in hospital for five days.
The climate science student, from Droylsden, Tameside, said: “It had been freshers and I’d been going out quite a bit and I started to feel really run down with flu-like symptoms.
“My watch showed that my heart rate was 120 lying down when it’s normally 55, so that was concerning and I felt dizzy and sick as well.
“I’d drunkenly fallen asleep with a tampon in and left it in for 12 hours so I Googled my symptoms and knew it was toxic shock.
“I told my mum and she rang welfare and they came to my door. When I answered the door I fainted so they took me to hospital.
“I had bloods done and they told me my white blood count was high, but they couldn’t pinpoint where the infection was from so they just put it down as being a viral infection and discharged me.
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“I knew it wasn’t a viral infection because I was dizzy and fainting – I said that I was worried it was toxic shock and told them about the tampon.”
Ellie says that after three hours at Durham Hospital and being discharged without treatment, her mum picked her up and took her home.
When her symptoms worsened the following day, the pair went to Tameside Hospital, where it was confirmed Ellie had toxic shock syndrome, a condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins.
“The next day it got worse – my heart rate was at 130 lying down, my temperature was at 40 degrees and I had a rash like sunburn all over my body,” Ellie added.
“I was worried when doctors at Tameside Hospital said it was toxic shock, but it was a relief at the same time.
“I’m just glad it didn’t progress to the more serious form because you can end up on a ventilator or having fingers and toes amputated.
“They said it’s a fatal disease and you’re lucky to have caught it now. It was scary.”
Ellie added: “I’ll still use tampons. but I’ll definitely be a lot more cautious about how long I leave them in for now.
“You’re taught about it in school, but you never think it’ll happen to you because it’s so rare.
“You should always go with your gut and get a second opinion.
“Even if you only have the slightest symptoms it’s best to go and get it checked out because it is a fatal disease.”
A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: “There are occasions when a patient develops further symptoms after leaving the care of our emergency department team, which would support a specific diagnosis.
“We encourage patients to return to hospital for further investigation when new symptoms emerge or existing symptoms persist.
“We’re sorry Ellie is unhappy with the care she received and would welcome an opportunity to discuss this and her overall experience with her, if she would find this helpful.”
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