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Drugs and Medications (Non-Antibiotics) as a source of Yeast Infection Causes
While antibiotics are the medications most widely known to contribute to candida infections, there are a few other drugs out there that can do the same thing.
The most notable other classes are steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, immunosuppressants and hormonal medications.
As with antibiotics, these medications don't directly cause candida infections, but they do contribute to creating a perfect environment for them.
Candida and the Immune System
The human immune system is a wonder of design.
Hundreds of cells and chemicals interact to protect the body from invasion and disease. Because of this ability, the immune system is the body's best defense against any natural yeast infection cause.
In fact, the human body has two immune systems, the innate and the adaptive systems.
The innate system produces automatic blanket responses to any biological invader, such as inflammation, increased circulation and mechanical ejection (coughing, sneezing, etc). The innate immune system also maintains specific pH balances in susceptible areas of the body that keep invaders at bay. Yeast infeection can only thrive in pH neutral or slighly acidic environments, so these basic defenses often work.
By contrast, the adaptive immune system breaks down and analyzes invaders, then tailors a biochemical response to the specific invader in question.
In addition, the normal bacteria of the intestinal tract and genitalia also serve to keep Candida in check through specific competition for resources like food and space. However, because of the need for analysis and the generation of a tailored response, the adaptive immune system can take a bit to catch up.
If a given medication interferes with the innate immune system, and many do, this opens up a chink in the body's defenses that many species of Candida will take as an engraved invitation. By the time the adaptive immune system catches up, candidiasis or candidemia may have progressed too far for the body's own tailored responses to catch up.
Can the Yeast Infection Cause be Corticosteroids?
Steroidal medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, hydrocortisone and beconase, are usually prescribed to reduce inflammation and moderate the immune system's responses.
These are corticosteroids and quite different from the anabolic steroids that many athletes take illegally.
Many steroidal medications, such as albuterol, are inhaled for asthma treatment. Almost every asthma inhaler contains a corticosteroid of some kind.
Others are taken as a pill or given as an injection for various problems.
For example, I get chronic bronchitis every year, usually left over from a bout with the flu. Once the flu problem itself is gone, the cough can just linger and linger. The most effective treatment I've had was one big prednisone injection to stop the inflammation in my lungs. That worked much better than a placebo prescription for antibiotics that wouldn't touch the real problem.
However, because steroids do work on the immune system, they can suppress it too far and create an opportunity for the candida spores to start multiplying. In addition, steroids increase the glucose levels in the blood.
Candida, being a yeast, feeds on glucose. When glucose levels go up, again, it just creates a better environment for yeast infection microorganisms to multiply.
Thus corticosteroids are a yeast infection cause.
Can the Yeast Infection Cause be Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDS, NAIDS)?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen also moderate the immune response and can also create a better environment for candida spores to grow in.
As their name implies, they are medications that don't qualify as corticosteroids, not having the same molecular structure, but do work to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a direct response of the immune system to being irritated, so any anti-inflammatory drug must moderate the immune system in order to have the intended effect.
The NSAID class of medications includes piroxicam (Feldene) and naproxen (Aleve). While it seems rather strange, these medications can actually contribute to yeast infections because, in a minor way, they suppress the natural response of the immune system.
There are a huge number of NSAIDs on the market today, and for some odd reason they have a huge variety of names. In many cases, generic drug names within a class of medications will have similar prefixes or suffixes, but the NSAID class is so huge this is no longer the case.
However, the literature you're supposed to get with a new medication should have the classification listed prominently, so look for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, NSAID, or NAID as the listed class.
Thus non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, may be a yeast infection cause.
Can the Yeast Infection Cause be Hormone Therapy (Oral Contraceptives, Menopause)?
Hormone therapies, such as contraception or menopause medications, are often linked to candida infections.
They most often cause genital yeast infection in women.
These hormone medications cause an increased level of estrogen in the body, which changes the vaginal environment. Normally the vagina maintains a very specific pH level in order to eliminate as many infections as possible, including bacterial and fungal.
Fungi, such as candida, prefer a neutral to slightly acidic environment.
When estrogen levels increase over a relatively long span of time, such as when on birth control or estrogen replacement therapy, the acid level of the vagina can drop to the point where it favors candida growth.
Thus Hormone Therapy (Oral Contraceptives, Menopause) can be a Yeast Infection Cause
Can the Yeast Infection Cause be Antacids and Antihyperacidity Medications?
It's a sad thing that so many people today suffer from heartburn and high stomach acid.
Perhaps it reflects the inherent stress of industrial society, or maybe it just has to do with our historically poor diets.
Either way, if you decrease the basic pH of the gastrointestinal tract too far by overuse of antacids or antihyperacidity medications, you may suffer from a candida yeast infection.
Antacids are particular culprits because they often contain high amounts of sugar, which also serve to feed Candida.
Now, it takes quite a lot of antacids or antihyperacidity medication to produce this effect, so people who use these medications within recommended limits are usually pretty safe. However, if you keep getting gastrointestinal or anal yeast infections and haven't been able to figure out why, if you take a lot of these you may have found your culprit.
So, Antacids and Antihyperacidity Medications may be your yeast infection cause
Can the Yeast Infection Cause be Immunosuppressants?
The last and rather rare group of medications that can contribute to a yeast infection are the immunosuppressants.
While these medications aren't all that rare in and of themselves, they're generally not handed out over the counter to just anyone. This makes their contribution to candida infections less prevalent overall.
However, these drugs are also the most dangerous when it comes to yeast infections.
To people with fairly normal immune systems, yeast infections are usually nothing but a serious annoyance.
However, when the immune system is compromised by drug or disease, a candida yeast infection can become systemic and deadly. People who have to take immunosuppressant medications such as those for cancer or organ transplant are highly susceptible to these deadly candida infections.
When immunosuppressant therapy is prescribed, careful monitoring for infection by anything is a must.
Immunosuppressants are obviously a possible yeast iInfection cause
How are such yeast infection causes dealt with, when the medication is so important to take?
If a yeast infection is caused by a non-antibiotic medication, the treatment should often be tailored to the specific circumstances.
Of course, the standards of yeast infection treatment don't change.
A healthy diet and lifestyle, sufficient sleep and as much stress reduction as possible are all important to maintaining a healthy immune system, which is the best defense against candida infections.
If you think that a particular medication is contributing to recurrent yeast infections, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to switch your medication to something that does not produce this unfortunate interaction.
If you must take the medication in question, you'll have to take serious precautions in order to avoid recurring yeast infections. Many of the general precautions can be found on the yeast infection prevention, home remedies and cure page, but a few of them are specific to medication use.
Treatment of the yeast infection with the cause being corticosteroids
If taking corticosteroids as an inhalant, as for asthma, always brush your teeth or at least rinse afterwards. This will keep the corticosteroid from creating a good environment for candida within the mouth itself.
If your medication comes in cream form and is applied to the skin, always remember to wash your hands after applying it so you don't accidentally put it on a mucous membrane.
If you have to take it in tablet form, you may want to work with your doctor to find the best one for you that produces the least problems.
Treatment of the yeast infection with the cause being non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
If taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for a long-term problem, you may want to try several if one gives you problems with recurring yeast infections. Each does its job in a slightly different way, and where one might give you neverending problems another may not produce any side effects at all.
Work with your doctor to find the right NSAID for you.
If you're taking one of the over-the-counter NSAIDs for problems with headaches or generalized pain, you may want to look into alternate therapies.
Stress-reduction techniques can work wonders for headaches and help the immune system as well.
Back pain and cramps are also often fixable through stress reduction, decent diet and massage therapy.
Any pain that persists for over two weeks needs to be looked at by a doctor, so don't take over-the-counter NSAIDs to diminish pain without ever looking into the source of the problem.
Treatment of the yeast infection, cause being oral contraceptives or estrogen replacement therapy
If oral contraceptives or estrogen replacement therapy is the problem, question why you're taking it.
If you're taking it to prevent pregnancy and it's causing never-ending yeast infections, you may want to look into other methods of birth control that don't involve higher estrogen levels.
If you're taking it to control acne, you may be able to switch to a prescription medication called spironolactone instead. It's only available by prescription, but it may do just as good a job with less Candida problems.
If you're taking it for menopausal symptoms, the problem should resolve on its own before too long as estrogen levels drop permanently to their post-menopausal norm.
Treatment of the yeast infection, cause being immunosuppressant medication
Those who are taking immunosuppressant medication probably won't be able to stop.
However, continual monitoring and careful infection control are both important parts of therapy with immunosuppressants, and the general methods for yeast infection prevention may help in day to day life.
The Yeast Infections Caused by Medications in Conclusion
In no case should you take recurring yeast infections due to medications for granted.
Even if it never develops into anything serious, a yeast infection can make life downright miserable.
In addition, each time a yeast infection develops there's a tiny chance that it could go systemic, so it's not the sort of thing you just ignore.
With education, a bit of work and a few precautions, yeast infections may never worry you again.
Yeast Infection Cause References
Mayer, Gene (2006). "Immunology - Chapter One: Innate (non-specific) Immunity". Microbiology and Immunology On-Line Textbook. USC School of Medicine.
Smith A.D. (Ed) Oxford dictionary of biochemistry and molecular biology. (1997) Oxford University Press.
Physician's Desk Reference, 2006 ed.
Taber's Medical Encyclopedia
Silverman, Harold M. The Pill Book 10th ed. 2002 Bantam Books New York, New York
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