10 ways to treat an yeast infection

PHOTOGRAPH: Teeramet Thanomkiat, 123rf.com

Yeast is a fungus that is normally present in the vagina in small quantities. When you have a vaginal yeast infection, it usually means there is not enough of the good bacteria that prevents the overgrowth of yeast. When yeast production gets out of hand, it can cause vaginal itching, soreness and sometimes pain and burning during urination or sex. Sometimes there is also an odourless, cottage cheese-like discharge. 


The most frequent causes of yeast infections include:
•    Antibiotics – Antibiotics kill the good bacteria in your body that prevents the overgrowth of yeast, which leads to yeast infections. 
•    Menstruation – You are more likely to develop a yeast infection around the time of your period. 
•    Pregnancy – Yeast infections are more likely during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
•    Others – Some diseases such as diabetes can cause yeast infections. Obesity, poor sleeping habits, and stress can also increase the likelihood of developing a yeast infection.


See a doctor if you have never been diagnosed with a yeast infection, or have had multiple, recurrent infections. If you choose non-prescription treatment without consulting a doctor, make sure that: 
•    You are not pregnant 
•    Have not been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) 
•    You are sure your symptoms are caused by a vaginal yeast infection.  


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If you use an over-the-counter treatment and don’t get relief within two to three days, see a doctor to discuss an alternative treatment. 

Medical Treatment
1.    Vaginal treatment  
Some antifungal medications are available over the counter and others need a prescription. Antifungal creams are applied to the vaginal opening, while suppositories are inserted directly into the vagina. Treatment can last one, three or seven days, depending on the severity of the infection. 

2.    Oral medication 
Your doctor might prescribe a one-time dose of an antifungal medication. This is the fastest and most effective cure for a yeast infection, and relief can be expected within the first 12 to 24 hours. Alternatively, your doctor might prescribe two doses taken three days apart, to manage severe symptoms. 


Home Remedies
1.    Unsweetened cranberry juice 

A well-known remedy for urinary tract and bladder infections, cranberry juice is also a good yeast fighter. Make sure there is no added sugar as this will just aggravate yeast growth.

2.    Probiotics 
Oral supplements containing lactobacillus acidophilus, commonly known as probiotics, as well as yogurt with live cultures, can help to reinstate the good bacteria in your system. 

3.    Avoid refined sugar and caffeine 
Chocolate, sweets, white bread and even fruit juices can cause blood sugar spikes, which promotes the growth of yeast. Caffeine can also worsen the effects of sugar by increasing the speed of blood sugar spikes.

4.    Cotton underwear 
Yeast breeds in warm, moist conditions. So if you’re prone to yeast infections, it’s best to wear lose fitting cotton underwear and avoid skinny jeans and tight panty hose.  


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5.    Alka Seltzer tablets 
Usually used for stomach pains, hangovers and body aches, the citric acid in them can help in the early stages of a yeast infection. 

6.    Apple cider vinegar 
Either consumed diluted in a glass of water, or added to warm bathwater to soak in, apple cider vinegar can be an effective anti-yeast treatment. 

7.    Coconut oil 
The lauric and caprylic acids in coconut oil are powerful antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial agents that can kill the infection and relieve symptoms. Apply to the external vaginal area twice a day.

8.     Garlic 
Natural antifungal foods like garlic may help combat yeast overgrowth. Sprinkle raw chopped garlic on salads or pasta, or if you can handle it, munch the raw cloves. If not, take garlic tablets.