Yeast Vaginitis

Vaginal yeast infection or vaginitis affects most American women at some time. It can be extremely hard to diagnose, treat and prevent.

Yeast vaginitis, commonly referred to as yeast infection, is an all-too-familiar problem for many women. It can cause extreme itching and burning in the vulva and surrounding area and can be very hard to cure.

Yeast vaginitis is not a bacterial infection and is not caused by being dirty. In fact the opposite may be true. Yeast is normally present in a healthy vagina and thrives in that warm, moist environment. Some bacteria is also present and completely normal. These two work in balance with each other to promote a healthy pH balance in the vagina. Yeast vaginitis or yeast infection occurs when the naturally-occurring bacteria of the vagina are killed, allowing the yeast to overgrow. Frequent yeast infections can also indicate other underlying conditions such as diabetes, or suppressed immune system.

Because the symptoms may mimic bacterial infections in the vagina and other conditions, including urinary tract infections, it's best to visit a doctor if you develop symptoms of yeast vaginitis. These symptoms may include itching, burning and pain in the genitals accompanied by a white discharge the consistency of cottage cheese. The discharge associated with yeast vaginitis is not foul-smelling, but rather smells like sour milk. The distinctive discharge may not be visible, however, which can be misleading. Your doctor can do a very simple swab test to make sure she is treating your vaginitis correctly. Applying yeast remedies for other conditions will not help and may in fact aggravate them.

Yeast infection can also be present in the digestive system and/or the mouth, causing bloating, abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits.

Once you have determined that your problem is indeed yeast vaginitis, there are a number of treatments available. Over-the-counter remedies can be found in a number of forms including vaginal suppositories, creams, or ointments. Courses of treatment may vary from one to seven days and prices for these products can vary considerably. Most of the products have as their active ingredient clotrimazole, butaconazole, or miconazole. You may have to experiment to find out which form works best for you and unfortunately you may find that none of them get rid of your yeast problem. Your doctor can prescribe stronger forms of the insertable or topical remedies or may decide on an oral prescription called flucanazole.

Flucanazole, (brand name Diflucan) is highly touted as a one-dose oral remedy for yeast vaginitis. It has been highly successful in many women in its one-dose form, but some women may have to take higher doses for the desired result. The 150 mg. tablet commonly prescribed can be repeated in three days in some cases for a complete cure. In highly resistant cases, a 7-day course of the 100 mg. tablet may be prescribed.

Whatever method of treatment you may choose, it takes time; no cure is immediate. The symptoms can be very uncomfortable until your treatment works from the inside out. The exterior genital area can be excruciatingly uncomfortable for several days even if your medicine is working properly. To get through this time period, you might try soaking in a mild tub with baking soda or plain table salt. Don't scrub, but soak until the bath water gets cool. Douching is not healthy in any case, but definitely not during a yeast infection. An over-the-counter anti-itch cream may offer some temporary relief, but don't scratch, which can open sores and add to your discomfort.

Prevention of yeast vaginitis is a hit and miss project. Studies have shown that persons with blood sugar imbalances are more likely to develop yeast infections, so diabetics are especially prone, as are hypoglycemics. Tight or restrictive clothing such as nylon or leather can trap moisture and cause yeast to overgrow. Too vigorous scrubbing or using antibacterial or perfumed soap in the vaginal area may also contribute. An imbalance of chemicals in your body, such as those associated with birth control pills, hormones, or even pregnancy, can result in yeast infection. In the U. S., the most common offender, however, is use of antibiotics, which kill the natural bacteria in the vagina, allowing the yeast to grow out of control.

Dietary adjustments can sometimes help prevent recurring yeast infections. Common foods that may contribute to yeast vaginitis include aged cheeses, mushrooms, bakery products, beer, caffeine and artificial sweeteners. Foods that may help prevent yeast vaginitis include yogurt and acidophilus.

Your doctor may, in fact, recommend applying plain yogurt directly to the affected area, which may sound strange, but can be very soothing and actually improve the acid balance of the vaginal area. Whether you are eating yogurt or applying it directly, be sure that the yogurt you choose is clearly marked to contain live and active yogurt cultures including L acidophilus.

Wearing loose clothing and white, cotton panties are also good preventative measures. Wear as few layers of clothing as possible, allowing for moisture to dissipate naturally. Sleeping without underwear may help. After a bath or shower, use a hair dryer on low cool setting to thoroughly dry the vaginal area, but don't use powders, which can be irritating. Perfumes and other chemicals in feminine deodorant sprays may also contribute to yeast infections, so these are not recommended. Use only white toilet paper.

Yeast vaginitis is contagious and can be transmitted sexually. Reinfection can also occur from wearing garments in which the yeast has not been thoroughly killed. Extreme heat has been shown to kill yeast, but heat from washers and dryers is not enough; ironing your underwear is a good way to be sure you have killed off all the yeast that may linger after laundering.

Yeast infections may also occur in infants following antibiotic therapy, or may be transmitted to the baby through the birth canal. If your baby has a rash on his bottom that is not responding to traditional diaper-rash treatments, ask your doctor to test for yeast. Yeast may also appear in the mouths of infants and is referred to as thrush.

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