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Compiled by Lahle Wolfe
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Yeast Infections and Diabetes
Please visit Dr. Richard Podell's website for complete information about yeast infections and treatment options. Although edited for content and style, some information used in this article refers to his site. Information for this article was also (edited) used from Wikipedia.
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Persons with insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and diabetes of all types may be especially prone to yeast infections. Yeast can infect various parts of the body in children and adults; men and women.
What is a Yeast Infection?
Candidiasis, commonly called yeast infection or thrush, is a fungal infection of any of the Candida species, of which Candida albicans is probably the most common. Yeast organisms are always present in all people, but are usually prevented from "overgrowth" (uncontrolled multiplication resulting in symptoms) by naturally occurring microorganisms.
In healthy persons without autoimmune problems, candidiasis can usually only be found in exposed and moist parts of the body, such as the oral cavity (oral thrush), the vagina (vaginal candidiasis or thrush), or folds of skin in the diaper area (diaper rash). Candidiasis is the most common cause of vaginal irritation or vaginitis. Candidiasis can also occur on the male genitals, particularly in uncircumcised men.
At least three quarters of all women will experience candidiasis at some point in their lives. The Candida albicans organism is found in the vaginas of almost all women and normally causes no problems. However, when it gets out of balance with the other "normal flora," such as lactobacilli (which can also be harmed by using douches), an overgrowth and symptoms can result. Pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and some antibiotics, and diabetes mellitus increase the risk of infection.
The most common symptoms are itching and irritation of the vagina and/or vulva. A whitish or whitish-gray discharge may be present, sometimes resembling cottage cheese, and may have a "yeasty" smell like beer or baking bread.
You cannot diagnose yeast infections yourself. If you suspect a yeast infection, you may try over-the-counter medications approved for the type of yeast infection you suspect (i.e. Monostat for vaginal yeast infection) if the symptoms are not severe. However, for severe or chronic symptoms always see your doctor because over-the-counter medications only work on certain types of common yeast.
A scraping or swab of the affected area is taken and sent to a lab where it is placed on a microscope slide. A single drop of 10% solution of a potassium (KOH) is then placed on the slide. The KOH dissolves the skin cells but leaves the Candida untouched. When viewed under a microscope the hyphae and pseudo spores of Candida are visible. Their presence in large numbers strongly suggest a yeast infection.
Candidiasis is alleged to be successfully treated either with home remedies or, in the case of a more severe infection, with either over the counter or prescription antifungal medications. Home remedies for candidiasis include the consumption or direct application of yogurt, which contains lactobacillus ("friendly" bacteria that kill yeast), acidophilus tablets or salves, and even lightly crushed cloves of garlic, which yield allicin, an antifungal. Boric acid has also been used to treat yeast infections when gelcaps are filled with boric acid powder and two are inserted at bedtime for three to four nights.
Whilst home remedies only offer relief in minor cases of infection, seeking medical attention is a necessity as the extent of the infection often cannot be judged well by the sufferer. Prescription medication is often the only solution to an infection; the antifungal drugs commonly used to treat candidiasis are topical clotrimazole, topical nystatin, fluconazole, topical ketoconazole. In severe infections (generally in hospitalized patients), amphotericin B, caspofungin, or voriconazole may be used.
If indicated, an underlying reason should be looked for. As an example, oral candidiasis is often linked to the use of inhaled steroids in asthma medication. Patients on long term inhaled steroids should rinse their mouth after each dose of steroids. It can also be the first sign of a more serious condition, such as HIV. Babies with diaper rash should have their diaper areas kept clean, dry, and exposed to air as much as possible. Sugar assists the overgrowth of yeast; thus, the increased prevalence of yeast infections in patients with diabetes mellitus, as noted above. In the case of frequent yeast infections, sugar can be looked to as a culprit and should be avoided.
Candida Yeast Infections May Be Involved in Other Medical Conditions
According to the website of Dr. Richard M. Podell (Medical Director and Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) "In the late 1970's Orion Truss, M.D. proposed that Candida Yeast, which normally lives in the human intestine, can also secrete toxins. Truss believed that these toxins can disrupt normal metabolism, causing or worsening a vast range of health problems. All physicians agree that yeast infection treatments can help vaginal candida infections. However Dr. Truss argued that candida diets and yeast infection treatments can also help many other health conditions."
Conditions That May Respond to Candida Diets and Candida Treatments
Alternative Therapy Debate
Alternative medicine proponents also frequently diagnose people with "systemic candidiasis" using methods not deemed valid by medicine. This belief originated from a book published by Dr. William Crook which hypothesized that a variety of common symptoms such as fatigue, PMS, sexual dysfunction, asthma, psoriasis, digestive and urinary problems, multiple sclerosis, Muscle pain, were caused by subclinical infections by Candida albicans. This is then treated with a variety of remedies ranging from dietary modification to colonic irrigation. These are felt by many in the medical establishment to be pseudoscience, as they have not met the rigors of scientific analysis. Nonetheless, thousands of patients do seem to show improvement in other disorders when yeast infections are eliminated.
Dr. Crook proposes the idea of treating yeast infections through dietary means. Since many patients do respond favorably to a change in diet, his remedy is worth considering because the diet is actually low in unhealthy carbohydrates; something most persons with diabetes would benefit from anyhow. And if nothing else, a diet that helps keep blood glucose in check is going to have a positive impact on yeast infection risk as well as reducing the risk of diabetes complications.
Dr. Crook's Candida Treatment Questionnaire was intended as a screening tool not as a diagnostic tool. It cannot diagnose Candida yeast infection or tell you that a Candida diet or Candida yeast infection treatment is definitely what you need. For more information please visit: www.yeastconnection.com.
You may also wish to read more medical information about many disorders including diabetes and candida on Dr. Richard Podell's website from which some information in this article was researched.
Preventing Yeast Infections
The most important Candida treatment is keeping your blood glucuse (sugar) in target and moderately reducing the carbohydrates in your diet. Candida diets sharply restrict “empty calorie” sugar products, grains, and alcoholic beverages. They may also restrict foods that are high-in yeast such as mushrooms, stinky cheese, vinegar, olives, soy sauce and pickles.
Other tips include:
Page Updated 03/27/2006