WHAT IS YEAST INFECTION?
Yeast infection is clinically called as candidiasis . It is named after the type of fungus, namely Candida which normally resides in the skin in small numbers. Candida could reside anywhere in the body including inside the body. Candida thrive and multiply in large numbers in dark, wet and warm environment and manifest as Yeast infections. Yeast infections usually occur in mouth, male genital areas and female genital areas (vagina). Yeast infections also occur in other places such as esophagus and some areas of skin that are moist and warm. In very rare cases, yeast infections enter the blood stream and causes life threatening situation.
The most common form of yeast infection is one that occurs in vagina namely Vaginitis. Candida albicans is commonly present in mouth, digestive tract, vagina and in skin. The infection of vagina due to Candida albicans is known as vaginal yeast infection. It occurs in the vaginal area of women and results in itchy and burning sensation. Yeast infection is not a serious medical condition but they result in discomfort for the patient. It is estimated that about 20 – 50 % of most women carry yeast in the vaginal area. The severity of the infection varies from individual to individual and range from mild to severe. The symptoms associated with yeast infections differs based on the individual. It is estimated that 75 % of women suffer from yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. About 90 % of the patients who have HIV or AIDS develop yeast infections.
This type of infection is not sexually transmitted, however a minor percentage of men develop rash and itching sensation in the genital area after sexual intercourse with a person affected with vaginal yeast infections. Recurrent yeast infections should be looked upon as an indication of underlying health problem. Repetition of the infection immediately after treatment or if the patient does not respond to treatment it may be an early sign of HIV infection.
TYPES OF YEAST INFECTIONS
Yeast infections can be classified into several types depending on the severity, place of infection, age & gender of the patient. While some types of yeast infections can be easily treated, other kinds are stubborn in nature and recur after treatment and sometimes may be life threatening. These kind of recurrent infections are most common among cancer and HIV patients who have a suppressed immune activity.
Oral Yeast infections
It is clinically termed as Oropharyngeal Candidiasis and otherwise called as thrush. It includes gastrointestinal and intestinal infections caused by Monilia Albicans. Oral yeast infection occurs in the mouth, tongue, roof of the mouth, on lips, and sometimes on the gums. The infection appears as white patch in the mouth, and bleeds when wiped to reveal a painful ulcer – like condition. This is common among babies, young children and in some adults. The general symptoms of oral yeast infections include red cracks in the corners of the mouth, red patches on the tongue, peeling patches on the tongue, creamy white or yellowish coating on the lips and oral area, with a red bleeding ulcer-like tissues. Often children with oral yeast infection complain of pain and burning sensation around the mouth and have difficulty consuming food.
Repeated oral yeast infection among infants indicates a problem of the immune system, while recurrent infections among older kids indicate a underlying diabetic condition.
Skin Yeast infections
Skin yeast infections is common in groin, underarms, under lower abdomen, between fingers and toe nails, under the folds of the buttocks, under the breasts etc where it is moist and warm. Skin yeast infection is more common among obese individuals, diabetic patients, patients consuming steroids or immuno-suppresant medications. Skin yeast infection manifests itself as pustules, rashes, scabs, and as red, inflamed skin that leaks fluid.
Yeast infections in Males
Although this type of infection is rare, men are susceptible to get this infection due to sexual contact with an infected female partner. The symptoms manifests itself as redness in the penis dome, burning sensation during urination, strong smelling urine, irritation and itching in genital areas. Yeast infections among males should be given medical attention and should not be ignored.
Systemic Yeast infections
In case of systemic yeast infections, the infection is not confined to one part of the body, rather it spreads to other regions as well. The systemic infection is similar to oral infection (thrush), but spreads to esophagus, stomach and also enters the blood stream. They also affect the liver and the urinary tract. It is common among individuals with compromised immune system such as HIV/ AIDS patients. The infection manifests itself as fatigue, migraine headaches, muscle pain, hypoglycemia, giddiness, breathing issues, constipation, rectal itching and diarrhea. Systemic yeast infections leads to other health complications such as fibroblast, arthritis, rosacea, eczema, acid reflux, depression etc.
Vaginal Yeast infections
Vaginal yeast infections are the most common form of yeast infections. They are otherwise called as Vaginitis or Vaginal Candidiasis or Monilial vaginitis. It occurs among women with diabetes, due to hormonal changes , pregnancy , stress, frequent douching etc.
This book will discuss the symptoms and treatment options for yeast infections with emphasis on vaginal yeast infections which is the most common form of yeast infection.
COMMON CAUSES OF YEAST INFECTIONS
The number of yeast cells in the vaginal skin surface can increase due to multitude reasons. Some of the factors that cause the increase in residing yeast cells include the following:
Antibiotics : Antibiotics are one of the common causes of Yeast infections among women. Consuming antibiotics destroys the harmful bacteria as well as the good bacteria namely Lactobacillus acidophilus . L. acidophilus helps to keep the number of yeast cells residing in the skin surface under control. Destruction of L. acidophilus sets in an imbalance in the bacterial micro flora and hence the number of yeast cells multiply and increase in number resulting in yeast infections.
Clothing : Clothing especially under-wears that are tight and made of non -breathable material trap heat and moisture and make it conducive for the yeast cells to thrive and multiply and result in skin and vaginal yeast infections.
Chemicals : Exposure to certain dyes, chemicals and artificial perfumes upset the normal micro flora of the skin and may be one of the risk factors for yeast infection. Certain types of laundry detergents, vaginal hygiene sprays,body wash, use of talc on vaginal area and sometimes scented toilet papers may also be the causative agents behind a yeast infection.
Oral Contraceptives : Women using oral contraceptives are more prone to yeast infections when compared to those who do not use them. Research has identified greater risk of developing yeast infection due to the consumption of high-dose estrogen birth control pills. High levels of Estrogen was found to increase the overgrowth of candida primarily due to change in the acidity levels. Similarly women who undergo estrogen hormone therapy are also susceptible to yeast infection.
Hormones: High estrogen levels also increase the risk of procuring yeast infections. Hormonal changes can be induced by multitude of reason such as pregnancy, consuming birth control pills, pre-menstrual hormonal changes, stress, lack of sleep etc. They result in decrease in the count of healthy micro flora of the intestine as well as the female genital areas and increase the susceptibility for yeast infection.
Pregnancy : Pregnancy is a period of hormonal changes as well as changes in the acid- base balance (pH) of the body. There is also increase in the levels of the hormone estrogen in the body, which is responsible for the glycogen (storage form of glucose) levels in the body. Yeast feeds on glucose and multiplies in number resulting in infection.
Thyroid / Endocrine disorders: Most often individuals with thyroids or endocrine malfunction will have disturbed hormonal balance and this plays havoc in the normal micro flora of the body. The body finds it difficult to adjust to the fluctuating hormonal levels and thus there is an increased risk of developing yeast infections under such health conditions.
Uncontrolled Diabetes : Recurrent Yeast infections are common among Diabetic women. The exact reason for increased occurrence among Diabetic women is yet to be determined. However, elevated blood sugar levels also increase the sugar levels in the mucus of vagina and vulva and enable the yeast cells to thrive and multiply under such conditions. Another reason being, individuals with elevated blood sugar level have poor ability to fight off infections caused by bacteria or fungus.
Diet : The food we consume is said to have a major influence in the incidence of yeast infections. Regular consumption of sugary foods, drinks, all tinned or canned foods that may have hidden sugars sets the ideal environment for yeast infection.
Poor Immunity: Individuals with compromised immune system, and those consuming immuno –suppressive drugs are more prone to yeast infections than other individuals. Women who undergo Corticosteroid therapy have suppressed or slowed down immune response and hence are more vulnerable to yeast infections.
Frequent Douching : Douching is a method of cleaning the vagina with water or other fluids that contain mixture of baking soda, vinegar etc. Many women believe and practice this as part of cleansing regimen during menstruation and for general purposes. Douching causes change in the delicate balance and acidity of the vaginal micro flora. This results in poor control of the number of yeast cells that multiply and thereby increases the risk of yeast infections.
Injury : Yeast infection also occurs when there is an trauma or injury to the vaginal area. This is common in conditions such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy which destroys cancer cells as well as healthy cells in the body and alter the micro flora balance to cause infection.
SYMPTOMS OF VAGINAL YEAST INFECTIONS
Vaginal yeast infections are the most common form of yeast infections. Nearly 80 – 90 % of women are affected by vaginal yeast infections at least once in their life time. Some women develop it occasionally while it is recurrent among certain female patients. The report will discuss the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for vaginal yeast infections in detail in the coming subheads.
The signs and symptoms of vaginal yeast infections are non-specific, and the symptoms overlap with other conditions that cause similar signs. The following are the most common symptoms of vaginal yeast infection.
Itching in the vaginal or vulvar area is the most common sign of a yeast infection. The itching generally occurs in and around the areas of vaginal region and causes embarrassment and discomfort to the affected individual.
Painful burning sensation is also one of the common symptoms of yeast infection. The sensation can be felt during urination as well as during sexual intercourse. This symptom is non-specific and sometimes women with urinary tract infections also report the same symptom.
Soreness on the outer lips of the vagina is one of the symptoms of vaginal yeast infection. Soreness may arise due to the itchy, burning sensation and due to inflammatory reaction of the body in response to the overgrowth of candida albicans.
Women with yeast infection also experience painful intercourse accompanied by burning and itching sensation after and sometimes during the intercourse. Some women also complain of lower abdominal pain after the intercourse due to yeast infection.
Pain and swelling
Pain and swelling in the vagina or the external female genital organs is a sure sign of an infection. Infection of the vagina is called as Vaginitis. The pain is usually in or around the vagina or vulva regions, resulting in immense discomfort.
There is always some vaginal discharge among all healthy women as part of the body’s cleansing mechanism. It appears clear or cloudy and causes no harm. However, some women with yeast infections experience abnormal discharge, although most do not have any discharge. The vaginal discharge may range from a slight watery, white discharge to a thick, white , cloudy chunk (similar to cottage cheese in appearance). Usually the discharge is odorless fluid. If the discharge is grayish or greenish with fishy odor, it may be a different type of infection. Trichomoniasis and Bacterial vaginosis are the other vaginal infections that is often confused with yeast infection.
Irritation / burning during urination
One of the common symptoms of yeast infection is irritation and or burning sensation while urinating. This symptom is often confused with urinary tract infections since they manifest with similar signs.
Redness and irritation
Redness and irritation around the vulvar regions, around the lips of the vagina is an indication that a yeast infection is present. The surrounding area becomes swollen and tender due to inflammation of the skin and sometimes may lead to rash. However, these symptoms are not common.
Rash on the vagina
Rashes on the areas around the vagina may appear red with blisters or sores. Sometimes, it may have bumps while the skin may retain its normal color. Rashes usually accompany pain, discomfort and vaginal discharge.
These are pus filled bumps, that are tender to touch. They spread to thighs and anus.
An individual affected with yeast infection may have just two or more of the above symptoms, that may range from mild to severe. Vaginal infections can occur once, or it can be recurrent.
DIAGNOSIS OF VAGINAL YEAST INFECTIONS
Since it is easy to mix the symptoms of yeast infection with other vaginal infections, there are chances for wrong interpretation. It is always advisable to consult a health care physician for apt diagnosis. Health care physician would perform the following tests and diagnosis:
During a pelvic exam the Doctor looks for-
- Swelling, inflammation of the skin in and around the vulva, vagina and on the cervix.
- Abnormal Discharge from the Vagina.
- Dry, white plaques on the vaginal walls.
- Pain, dryness or abdominal pain.
A Health care physician takes samples for this test by scraping the lesions off your skin. This is done with the aid of a blunt edges tool such as a microscopic slide. The scrapings are then placed in a liquid containing potassium hydroxide (KOH) and observed under the microscope. The KOH solution destroys the non- fungal cells which leaves only the fungal cells if present. Microscopical observation helps to determine if the infection is of bacterial origin or trichomoniasis and aids to choose the precise treatment.
A Health care physician also takes samples of vaginal discharge. In this test the sample is placed on a glass slide and mixed with a salt solution. The slide is observed under microscope for bacteria, trichomoniasis, yeast cells, white blood cells that indicates an infection or clue cells that indicate bacterial infections. Clue cells are the epithelial cells in the vagina that appear fuzzy when they are coated with bacteria, presence of clue cells indicate definite bacterial infection.
Sometimes, a culture is taken when the infection becomes recurrent or if the patient does not improve with treatment and medications.
A blood test is ordered by the Doctor to know if the yeast infection is due to the presence of undiagnosed diabetes or another medical condition.
These diagnostic procedures help to identify the symptoms specific for vaginal yeast infections and rule out other causes of the symptoms. The lab test using a microscope is a low cost and accurate diagnostic method for determining the yeast infections. A health care professional may order one or more of these tests to determine the underlying cause of the infection.
COMPLICATIONS & PREVENTION
While affected by a yeast infection it is very important to consult a Doctor for a proper identification of the underlying problem and to rule out possibilities of other infections such as trichomoniasis or other bacterial infections.
Complications include chronic or recurrent infections that may occur if no proper treatment is undertaken or if an individual reinfects herself, or if there is an underlying health / medical condition. Pregnant women should seek immediate medical attention in case of vaginal yeast infection as improper treatments may lead to premature delivery and low birth weight babies.
Untreated vaginal yeast infection or inadequate / faulty treatment of other types of infection may lead to pelvic inflammation. This condition results in scarring of the fallopian tubes and may lead to infertility and the condition is called pelvic inflammatory disease.
Other complication could be a start of a secondary infection, which may prolong the treatment time and also could cause intense itching and scratching resulting in crack on the delicate skin of the vulva and labia.
The aim of preventive measures is to make the conditions less favorable for the yeast cells to multiply and thrive. The following strategies help to reduce the risk of recurrent infections as well as prevent yeast infections. They are as follows:
Clothing : Wear breathable, cotton clothing, that are not too tight-fitting. Yeast thrives in warm and moist conditions. Tight clothing, that are made of nylon and other synthetic materials does not allow air circulation and trap moisture that makes it favorable for yeast growth. Avoid clothing such as tight fitting jeans, pantyhose etc. Always keep the genital areas, arm pits, groin etc cool, clean and dry.
Stay Dry : Ensuring that that the skin between finger and toe nails, groin, genital areas are dry after a bath . One must make effort to carefully dry off after using a swimming pool or shower to reduce the risk of yeast infections.
Avoid Douching : Douching is known to cause changes in the delicate balance of the vaginal micro flora. Frequent douching leads to irritation to the skin around labia, cervix, and vagina.
Personal Hygiene: Maintain personal hygiene by changing from sweaty exercise clothes and wet swim suits as soon as possible. It is advised to change to a fresh underwear before going to bed. During menstruation, changing the sanitary pads or tampons will help the vaginal area stay dry and clean.
Perfumes / Dyes : Certain perfumes, personal hygiene sprays, bath soaps, gels, sanitary products and laundry detergents may contain chemicals that cause irritation and makes the conditions favorable for a yeast infection to begin. Always reach for fragrance-free products in order to eliminate the risk of infection.
Control Diabetes: Diabetic patients with yeast infection, should have their Diabetes under control by maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.
Correct wiping methods : After urination, always ensure to wipe from front to back, this helps to prevent yeast from entering into the vagina. Besides there is also a risk of E.coli and other bacteria entering the vagina while wiping from back to front.
Antibiotics: Do not consume antibiotics unless advised by a health care professional for a specific medical condition. It is also not advisable to consume left over antibiotic medications or someone else’s prescription in order to treat an infection.
Restrict Sugar intake : Yeast thrives on sugar, and hence elevated blood sugar levels are conducive for developing a yeast infection. Cutting back on sugary drinks, foods and sweets not only helps to eliminate the yeast infection, but also maintains a healthy blood glucose levels and keeps the waist line in check.
Avoid irritants : Using scented or perfumed bath products such as soaps, body washes etc; using scented or colored toilet tissues may also cause irritation and change in the micro flora of the vagina.
Hot tubs: Avoid hot tubs or hot baths, bubble baths etc to reduce the risk of infection.
Yeast infections are easy to treat and some of the symptoms disappear with simple home remedies and by the use of over the counter medications. The usual treatment include home based remedies, Over the counter and prescription medications ( drug therapies), herbal and Ayurvedic treatments including dietary modifications. The type of treatment is largely based on whether the infection is complicated or uncomplicated.
Before starting of with home remedies a patient must consult a Doctor for the following reasons:
- If the patient has an infection for the first time.
- If the patient has had frequent infections of other types or a urinary tract infection.
- If home remedies don’t work and the symptoms persist even after using over-the-counter medications.
- If the patient has any underlying health problems such as Diabetes, or any other condition.
- If the patient has a compromised immune system due to consumption of certain types of medications for treatment of cancer or HIV.
- If new symptoms develop during the course of infection, which may lead to complications.
- If the problem is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting , bloody discharge etc, which may occur due to kidney infection or appendicitis
Home Remedies for treating Yeast infections
Home remedies for treating yeast infections can be used only if the symptoms are mild and there are no underlying health conditions such as Diabetes or suppressed immune function.
The following are the common home remedies suggested for treating mild Yeast infections
Consumption of probiotics are the popular choice for treating yeast infections. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial to the human gut and promote the growth of friendly bacteria. They are beneficial in many ways – they aid in absorption of B vitamins in the body, boosts immunity and control the activity of other bacteria and microorganisms residing on the human skin. By naturally increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the body, one can control the growth of candida albicans and reduce the symptoms of infections as well as eradicate the infection.
Studies have proven that the low levels of Lactobacilli in the vagina is associated with yeast infections. Lactobacilli were found to block the growth of Candida albicans in lab studies. Food sources of Lactobacilli include yogurt, kefir, Miso (soy bean paste), tempeh ( fermented whole soyabean), sauerkraut, sour cream, butter milk etc. There are many strains of lactobacilli such as L.acidophilus, L.bulgaricus, L. plantarum that are widely used in making yogurt and kefir. Probiotics are also available as oral supplements in the market.
Boric acid is another home remedy for treating mild yeast infections. The mild antiseptic and anti fungal properties makes it ideal for treating yeast infections. A lot of studies have shown the beneficial effects of Boric acid on treating yeast infections. Studies have shown that topical boric acid application to be more effective in treating yeast infections than anti fungal drugs with higher cure rate. Although Boric acid seems effective since it s toxic there are safety concerns to it. It should never be consumed orally, or applied to open cuts or wounds. It is not recommended for long term use and should not be applied more than the recommended amount. Boric acid should not be used by Pregnant, nursing mothers, young children and infants.
Tea Tree Oil
The essential oil of tea tree oils is often diluted and applied topically to the vaginal area to treat yeast infections. The compound terpinen – 4 ol present in tea tree oil was found to be beneficial in treating infection. It is highly important that tea tree oil should never be used at its high strength, it always has to be diluted and applied. There are no clinical studies to prove the therapeutic effects of tea tree oil for treating yeast infections.
Drops of vinegar added to hot sitz bath helps to relief the itching and irritation sensation caused due to yeast infections. It also helps to restore the pH balance of the skin and thereby controls the growth of yeast cells in the vagina.
Cinnamon Oil & Cold coconut oil
Application of these oils on the infected areas about two times a day helps to relieve the symptoms. The beneficial effects are attributed to the anti-fungal properties of these oils.
Garlic has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties and hence is considered useful in treating non-vaginal yeast infections. For non-vaginal yeast infections, garlic can be topically applied as a paste on the affected areas. Either fresh garlic can be used, or garlic oil can be diluted and combined with Vitamin E oil, coconut oil and the blend can be applied to the affected areas. Garlic helps in controlling the infection, Vitamin E soothes the skin, coconut oil’s beneficial fatty acids prevents the spread of infection. Garlic should not be used for treating vaginal yeast infections.
The home remedies that have been mentioned above are not investigated or proven using well designed trials or studies. Hence they should not be considered as reliable clinical recommendations, however, beneficial effects have been reported by individuals who have tried them. One exception being the home remedy suggesting the use of lactobacillus has been studied by number of clinical trials and its efficacy has been proved. Lactobacillus consumption has been shown to improve the balance of the beneficial micro flora in the body and restore the count.
Over the Counter Medications
Before reaching for Over the counter medications to treat yeast infections one must ensure that he or she has confirmed that the symptoms experienced are due to a yeast infection and not from other types of infections. This is especially true in cases of vaginal infections where the symptoms overlap with that of yeast infection symptoms. Vaginal creams, Topical medications,vinegar douches, Oral medications, Vaginal suppositories are the over-the-counter medications that are available to treat vaginal yeast infections. Pregnant, Nursing mothers, People with underlying disease conditions and complications should not consume over the counter products without consulting their Health care physicians.
Infections that don’t respond to over the counter medications should be given immediate medical
attention to prevent further complications. Use of anti-fungal medications in the absence of a yeast infection raises the risk of getting stubborn infections in the future.
Prescription Medications / Drug Therapies
A consulting physician would start with topical applications of creams and lotions to treat infections, before starting with oral therapies. The drug therapies include topical applications or oral therapies or both depending on the type, duration and severity of infections.
Polyenes (nystatin) that are antimycotics which target the bacteria and fungi to destroy them. Polyenes basically stop further growth of yeast cells, which provides the immune system to better combat the infection. These compounds work well when they come in direct contact with the bacteria. The treatment is said to have 70 – 80 % effective in treating infections.
Azole derivatives such as imidazole ( miconazole, butoconazole) and triazole ( fluconazole, terconazole) containing vaginal creams applied externally for 1 – 5 days also shows 90 % efficacy in treating yeast infections.
Fluconazole containing drug formulations consumed at a dosage of 150 milligrams per day were found to be about 70 – 90 % effective.
Ketoconazole containing formulations at a dosage of 400 milligrams per day for 5 – 14 days were also found to be 83 % effective. It was more effective for treating infection among HIV patients.
Nystatin formulations consumed orally were also beneficial in reducing intestinal problems as well as infections.
Ayurvedic Remedies for Yeast infections
Traditional Western medicine treats the infection with the use of allopathic drugs, Ayurveda seeks to give a holistic approach via diet and lifestyle modifications.
According to Ayurvedic system of medicine, the population of yeast cells would rise due to faulty dietary habits, poor personal hygiene and faulty lifestyle habits. Ayurveda details that the faulty dietary habits such as high sugary food, high caffeine or alcohol intake, over eating and lifestyle conditions / habits such as anxiety, stress, anger, fear, grief etc can also lead to over growth of yeast cells in the body. Ayurveda suggests the following guidelines for treating yeast infections.
Foods to Consume
Intake of Acidophilus capsules for two week. This should be combined with digestive spices such as cumin, fennel seeds, fenugreek to be consumed before meals for two weeks. Ayurveda recommends increasing the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli etc.
Foods to Avoid
In terms of diet perspective, Ayurveda suggests that all fermented foods, dairy foods, sugary / sweet foods , raw foods and yeast containing breads etc should be avoided. Ayurveda also recommends to avoid heavy and cold foods that may delay digestion . Other foods that needs to be avoided include cheeses, mushrooms etc.
Douch that is prepared using the purifying herbs musta ( Nut grass) and or manjishta ( scientific name -Rubia cordifolia) could be used initially. This should be followed by another douch preparation containing sesame and sunflower oil along with tonifying herbs such as Ashwagandha. The purifying and tonifying douch needs to be applied to the affected area for 3 – 5 days each. Another douching remedy to reduce the itching and burning sensation is to use licroice tea or triphala tea.
A douch of Goldenseal, turmeric and licorice, or a plain yogurt and acidophilus combination would also be beneficial in treating vaginal yeast infections.
Combine equal parts of Oregano leaf , goldenseal root and coneflower ( Echinacea purpurea), steep a tablespoon of this herbal mixture in a pint water. Cool and douch daily for 10 – 14 days.
Other Ayurvedic / herbal remedies
A glass of hot water with lemon helps to discourage the multiplication of yeast cells.
Consumption of butter milk, mixed with cilantro leaves, fresh ginger root and cumin seeds helps in increasing the beneficial microflora as well as cleansing the system.
A combination of Licorice ( ½ tsp), turmeric ( ¼ tsp) and shardunika ( ¼ tsp) can be mixed in warm water and the mixture can be consumed twice a day until the symptoms disappear.
Echinacea, barberry, cardomom, cumin, goldenseal and ginger. It is suggested to be taken at a dosage of 2 grams three times a day with warm water and honey , one hour before eating. This should be consumed for at least 6 days and no longer than 10 days.
Consumption of Triphala as a supplement or as tea. According to Ayurveda Triphala improves digestion, boosts the immunity and also cleanses the digestive tract. Other combinations include ground turmeric with licorice root that is believed to relieve symptoms.
NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENTS
Following certain dietary modifications helps to reduce the over growth of Candida and increase the beneficial bacteria in the gut as well as the vaginal regions. However, one should consult with the physician if the symptoms persists. The following are the general recommendations :
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of many nutrients that prevent infections and boost the function of the immune system. For instance, Vitamin C present in most fruits helps in fighting infection and boosts the immune activity due to its antioxidant properties. Other vitamins such as Vitamin E, Carotenoids ( containing Vitamin A ) which show antioxidant as well as anti-infective properties. Vegetables such as kale, tomatoes, bell peppers and all cruciferous vegetables are good sources of Vitamins A, C and E and other beneficial phytonutrients.
Yogurt and other probiotics
Consumption of lactobacillus bacteria ( friendly bacteria) in the form of yogurts and kefir is found to beneficial in treating yeast infections. It is recommended to consume enough of these probiotics which contain the live cultures of Lactobacillus bacteria, that helps in restoring the balance in the body. These beneficial bacteria create an acidic environment which makes it impossible for Candida to thrive and multiply. Consumption of probiotics has been encouraged by both Allopathic and Alternative medicine practitioners in order to reduce the risk of yeast infections.
Steer clear of food allergens such as gluten rich foods, food additives, dairy products, preservative containing foods etc. Food allergens aggravate the symptoms of yeast infections and also leads to poor response to the medications and other remedies used for treating infections.
Boost the fiber intake
Consume foods that are rich in fiber such as vegetables, oats, whole grains, beans, and psyllium seeds. Fiber adds bulk to the contents of the intestine , allow regular and healthy bowel movements and reduce the intestinal transit time and thereby the risk of overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Restrict Refined foods
Refined foods such as white flour, white bread, other refined flour, pastas and simple carbohydrates have to be limited or restricted. Yeast thrives on sugar, and refined foods are good source of sugar for the yeast to feed on and multiply in the body.
Avoid Junk food
Trans fats lurk in our food in the form of tasty french fries, commercially baked cookies, cakes, pies, in donuts, margarines etc. They not only increase the risk of infections but are also harmful for general health. Cutting back on saturated and trans fats and replacing them with healthy unsaturated fats such as olive, flax seeds, sunflower oils, nuts , fish etc helps to reduce the risk and also reduced the inflammatory conditions associated with yeast infections.
Other Beneficial Nutrients
Certain nutrients such as Vitamin K, C, antioxidants such as bioflavonoids, quercetin, selenium, carotenoids, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, Coenzyme A, L-cysteine are all believed to beneficial in treating candidiasis according to Nutrition Researchers.
Increase Physical activity
Increasing physical activity in the form of exercise such as walking, biking, jogging etc, boosts the number of circulating antibodies in the blood and improve body’s resistance to infection.
Reduce body weight
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of yeast infections. So reducing the body weight if a person is over weight, helps to a great extend to decrease the chance of procuring yeast infections in the future.
Multivitamins – Consuming a multivitamin supplement containing the B complex vitamins and antioxidant vitamins, trace minerals such as magnesium,selenium, zinc, calcium etc helps to boost the activity of immune system.
Omega 3 fats – Consumption of omega – 3 fats containing supplements such as fish oils (salmon, halibut) etc decrease the inflammatory conditions associated with yeast infections.
Probiotic supplements – Consuming Lactobacillus acidophilus containing probiotic supplements that have a strength of 5- 10 billion CFUs ( Colony forming units ) per day helps in maintaining gastrointestinal as well as immune health.
Grapefruit seed extracts – Grapefruit seed extract containing supplements have potent anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antiviral activity and support immunity.
Garlic extracts – Garlic is a potent anti-bacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory supplement whose health benefits extends beyond treating yeast infections.
Zinc supplements – Zinc is said to have a beneficial role in boosting the immune activity. Consumption of zinc containing supplements 1- 2 times daily during vaginitis outbreak helps to relief the symptoms as well as reduce the future risk.
Herbal supplements – Herbal supplements containing cinnamon, oregano, green tea, milk thistle, cat’s claw and cloves are all beneficial to use during a yeast infection. These specific herbs have anti-fungal properties that can help reduce the Candida overgrowth.
Nutrients are vital for normal functioning of the immune system as well as over all health. They have a direct and indirect role in treating yeast infections. It is important to remember to discuss with a Health care professional regarding the dietary supplements and herbs to understand the effects of consuming the same.
There is no specific nutrient that can help in treating the infectious conditions. Nutrients work in synergy to boost the immune activity that helps to combat the infectious condition as well as promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the body. It is strongly recommended not to start of self treatments with nutrients or supplements without discussing with a Health care provider. A physician will be able to provide information regarding the dosage, frequency and drug interactions associated with intake of certain nutrients.
If an individual is prone to more than four yeast infection in an year, immediate medical attention should be given to the condition. Recurring infections may lead to serious conditions and other complications. It is also mandatory to consult a doctor if consuming any prescription medications before using an herbal supplement.
The success of the treatment is based on three key points – reducing the number of yeast cells, increasing the beneficial micro flora, and control of factors that are favorable for yeast growth. There are a wide array of options available to treat candidiasis such as creams, vaginal suppositories, pills, lotions etc depending on the type and place of infection. In most cases, yeast infections are not life threatening and they go away without further complications, however failure to obtain proper treatment or faulty self treatments may result in chronic and stubborn infections. Additionally, individuals with poor immune defense tend to have recurrent infections that are stubborn and may respond poorly to treatment options. When encountered with yeast infection, the wise choice is to discuss it with a Health Care provider, to identify the best treatment option.