Chances are that if you’re reading this article, you suffer from yeast infections chronically or frequently. You’ve probably tried one (or many) of the over the counter or prescription antifungal medications and had limited success. You may have found that these medications work in the short-term, but that the infection comes back as soon as you stop using them.
So how do you achieve the ultimate goal– permanent cure?
First, you need to understand that chronic yeast infections usually happen for a reason. Candida is a part of the normal flora of the body, and usually lives in a harmonious balance with healthy bacteria and other microorganisms. It’s only when this balance becomes upset that Candida will overgrow, invade and cause infection.
If you have frequent yeast infection symptoms, there is probably something going on in your body that is upsetting this natural balance. In this article I’m going to discuss three common culprits: 1) Diet, 2) Medical conditions and immune system function, and 3) Medications.
Let’s start with your diet. Do you eat a lot of sugar or refined carbohydrates? Sugar (and foods that are directly converted to sugar inside the body, like white bread and rice) are the primary food source of Candida. Think of it this way– every time you eat sweetened foods, you are feeding your infection! On the opposite end of things, do you eat enough foods high in fiber? Do you get plenty of vitamins and minerals from vegetable sources? The benefits of a healthy, fiber and nutrient-rich diet are twofold: one, the fiber will help keep your gastrointestinal system healthy by allowing your body to eliminate toxins and wastes, which prevents yeast from overgrowing in the GI tract, and two, a healthy diet gives your immune system a boost, which strengthens your body’s natural defenses against infection.
Also examine whether you have any medical problems that increase your susceptibility for Candida overgrowth. Diabetes is perhaps the most common culprit. Not only does uncontrolled diabetes wreak havoc on your immune system, but the increased levels of glucose in your bloodstream will further feed the infection. If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to optimize your blood sugar control as best as possible. If your diabetes is well-controlled, and you don’t have spikes of blood glucose throughout the day, you shouldn’t have an increased risk of infection.
Even if you don’t have diabetes, or another medical condition that is known to knock out the immune system (such as AIDS), it’s still possible that your immune system isn’t operating at 100%. Do you get adequate sleep? Are you under a lot of stress or are you overworked? Do you smoke? Drink too much? Your lifestyle and mental state can have a big impact on how strong your body’s natural defenses are. It can be very hard to make significant changes in your lifestyle, but it’s a crucial part of the equation if lifestyle habits are leading to the problem.
If you have chronic yeast infections, you need to take a close look at your medicine cabinet. Write down a list of all the medications, both prescription and over the counter, that you regularly take. Do you take anything with hormones, including hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptive pills? What about antibiotics? Any steroid medications, including inhaled steroids used to treat asthma? All of these medications, through different mechanisms, alter the natural balance in your body in the favor of Candida. Work with your doctor to see if you can reduce your intake of these drugs, or better yet, eliminate them and find alternatives. For example, you doctor can suggest a non-hormonal form of birth control, such as the copper IUD or barrier methods such as the sponge or diaphragm.