Your Yeast Infection | Causes, Prevention and Treatment Options


Are You Worried About Yeast Infections?

Why do some people get yeast infections, while others don’t? Why do some yeast infections keep coming back?

Yeast infection symptoms are irritating, itchy, and embarrasing, especially when they seem to come back just as soon as the initial treatment program is over. While we usually think first of female vaginal yeast infections when we think of Candida albicans infections, male yeast infections and oral infections are also common. Babies can get yeast infections, too – in fact, yeast is what usually causes diaper rash.

Treating Yeast Infections

Most people start first with natural treatment options, like yogurt or vinegar, and if that doesn’t work they go to over-the-counter ointments or prescription medications. Usually the infection clears up after a short time, but if the underlying cause is not removed, the infection is likely to come back.

The Causes of Yeast Infections

The four most common causes of yeast infections are pregnancy, the use of antibiotics, diabetes, and the use of corticosteroid medications.

Antibiotics are by far the most common cause of yeast infections, and the infection usually goes away when the prescription for antibiotics is no longer needed. Antibiotics can instigate an infection because they kill good bacteria along with the bad.

a sickly woman

The good bacteria that live in our lower intestines and on our skin are our first line of defence against the overgrowth of yeast. In a healthy person, these two communities of micro-organisms live side by side without causing problems. It is when the balance is upset that yeast can take hold and cause an infection. Now that antibiotics are found in soaps and personal products and even our food supply, the number of people who suffer from yeast infections continues to increase.

Another thing that can change the healthy balance between bacteria and candida yeast is a diet high in sugar and white flour. Many people who experience chronic yeast infections are able to eliminate them completely by switching to whole-grain products and giving up sugary treats.

Pregnancy is a common cause of yeast infections because, like diabetes and obesity, it changes the body’s hormone balance. Most of the time, candida yeast is harmless. However, certain chemical changes can cause yeast to morph into the infectious form. Some things that change our internal chemistry are hormone medications, such as birth control pills, the natural hormone changes that come with pregnancy, and certain illnesses, such as diabetes and thyroid dysfunction.

In fact, chronic yeast infections are often the first sign that a person has become diabetic. For that reason, anyone who suffers from these infections on a regular basis should get a thorough medical checkup.

Steroid medications can cause yeast infections because they are used to lower your immune response. This is often necessary for medical reasons. If you must take steroid medications for an auto-immune disease, ask your doctor for advice about limiting the risk of yeast infections.

Your immune system can also be damaged by viruses like HIV/AIDS and other illnesses, and by lifestyle choices such as eating a diet that doesn’t provide your body with enough nutrition to stay healthy. Some medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer and corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis, can suppress the immune system. When the immune system isn’t healthy, a yeast infection may occur. If you have a supressed immune system for any reason, it is extremely unwise to attempt to treat a yeast infection without medical supervision.

Preventing Chronic Yeast Infections

Changing the diet is the first thing to consider when you suffer from chronic yeast infections. You do not need a special “candida diet,” since scientists have proven that it is the sugar and white flour in the American diet that causes an overgrowth of yeast.

Since there are over 17 different things that can cause chronic yeast infections, a change in diet alone may not stop your infections from coming back. That’s one of the reasons why you should ask your doctor for advice, instead of relying on natural remedies or over-the-counter medications alone.

If you’re concerned about chronic yeast infections, or you think you may currently have a Candida overgrowth, be sure to read through the articles on this site to learn more about treating yeast infections, and keeping them from coming back.

3 Easy Tips to Prevent Yeast Infections

The one good thing about yeast infections is that they’re usually easy to treat.

A woman holding press powder

Even with home remedies, a mild yeast infection will go away within a few days – and stronger, more entrenched infections will disappear in a week or so if you use medications, either from the local pharmacy shelves or through a prescription.

But two out of three women who get vaginal yeast infections get another one – sooner, or later. And diaper rash, oral thrush and male yeast infections, which are all caused by Candida albicans yeast, also come back fairly regularly.

So, once you get rid of your yeast infection, how do you keep it from coming back? There are over 17 different environmental and health conditions that can trigger an infection, so it’s important to become informed about everything on that list to see how you can prevent future yeast infections. You and your best friend could both have a Candida outbreak for completely different reasons.

However, the most common triggers for the itching, the redness, the swelling and the dripping are antibiotics, hormone changes, and a poor immune system. You can’t control all these things, but there are things you can do to remain healthy so your resident yeast won’t go back on the warpath.

The three easiest ways to prevent another yeast infection:

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  • Stay Cool and Dry

Yeast loves to live in those warm, dark places that retain moisture. In your underwear, for instance, or under your breasts, in your armpit, or on your baby’s bottom.

To combat the little nasties, keep yourself as dry as you can. Some people find that it helps to use an absorbent powder such as Zeasorb Super Absorbent powder®. Be sure you use the non-medicated kind, unless your doctor suggests otherwise. Don’t wear clothing that keeps in moisture – loose cotton is best. Men with a yeast infection on the penis or with crotch rot, might want to switch to boxers for a while, and stay away from those tight jeans. And air yourself out occasionally – especially right after a bath or shower, so you know you’re good and dry before you put your clothes back on.

  • Avoid Cuts, Scrapes and Irritants

scissorsTiny cuts and scrapes in the genital area can give yeast a chance to invade. You can get these itty-bitty injuries without knowing it. You also want to avoid products that cause irritation to the delicate skin on your genital area or on your baby’s bottom.

Common items that cause irritation are scented and colored toilet papers; scented or harsh laundry detergents; and feminine deodorant sprays with scents or chemicals. Sex without adequate lubrication can cause abrasions in the lining of the vagina.

Some women find that tampons, especially the super-absorbent kind, can cause microscopic cuts in their vagina. If you use tampons and get frequent yeast infections, you might want to switch to unscented pads or washable cotton pads for a while to see if it helps.

Many older denture wearers get oral thrush under their denture plates. If this is the case, your doctor will probably suggest that the dentures be treated to remove the yeast, or that you have the dentures replaced for a pair that fits better.

  • Avoid Antibiotics

Capsules and tabletsI know this isn’t always possible, but you definitely don’t want to take antibiotics unless you have to. People quite often get vaginal yeast infections, and children get oral thrush, right after a course of antibiotics. Make sure you ask your doctor if the antibiotics are really needed.

If you child gets frequent yeast infections and isn’t on antibiotics and isn’t eating a high-sugar diet (a major risk factor for oral thrush), you might want to switch to certified organic beef and poultry. Our meat industry is notorious for feeding large quantities of antibiotics to feedlot cows and caged chickens, to avoid the illnesses that are caused by overcrowding. These antibiotics are then passed on through the meat. The overuse of antibiotics by the meat and poultry industry may be one of the reasons why the incidence of yeast infections has doubled in the last 20 years.