There is currently a decades-long debate going on arguing whether the frequent use of antibiotics in our society has anything to do with the increase in allergies among our newborn children. It’s not safe to say whether the skeptics or the researchers are right about this one because there are no definitive long-term studies yet that explicitly determine that “antibiotics cause allergies.” A few years back, we were arguing over the question: can antibiotics cause yeast infections? and it has been determined that they definitely do. Perhaps some day in the near future, a long-term study will prove that antibiotics have a direct correlation to the rise in allergies among newborns, but until then, let’s investigate the facts we already have and determine how likely it is that this claim may make sense.
Human History of Antibiotic Use
Over thousands of years, different cultures tried to utilize different materials in nature to help control and treat their diseases. Our ancestors would take advantage of plants that evolved essential oils to kill microbes for their defense.
We would eventually learn that we can take this step even further with manipulation of breeding techniques and genetic modification.
It wasn’t until the last century that people found out that some infections were caused by bacteria and viruses. These living organisms were too small for us to even see to even consider them being a part in our illnesses. Now that we have developed microscopes, we understand that very small things can affect our health on a large scale.
In the late 1800’s scientists began to play around with microscopic bacteria and see how they reacted to different chemicals. Alexander Fleming had accidentally discovered that penicillin, a chemical released by fungi, will kill certain species of bacteria completely. (1)
Fleming made a petri dish with a piece of fungus on one end and started a pathogenic bacterial culture on the other. Over time, the growth of the bacteria could be physically observed and it appeared that there was an invisible force field around the fungus, protecting it from the bacteria.
We learned from this that plants, fungi and animals can evolve to compete in chemical warfare for their advantage in nature. We also learned that we can take advantage of this to protect ourselves in the same way.
Can Antibiotics Cause Yeast Infections?
Yeast infections can occur in many places on the body. Most commonly, they create problems with the throat, feet, and genitals.
Many women, in particular, are worried about yeast infections making them uncomfortable on any given day.
But what causes a yeast infection?
The body is normally very efficient at regulating itself on the hormone and cellular level. However, there are some factors of our internal nature that we cannot control. One of the important things we can’t control is our microbiome: the makeup of bacteria inside of us that have evolved with our ancestors to live with us in a healthy symbiosis.
Another environmental factor our bodies can’t control efficiently is the pH of certain parts of our body. This is how acidic our skin or blood is and is commonly referred to as “alkalinity” in the natural health community.
If you are a chemist, acidity refers to the pH of our bodily membranes or blood, meaning that positively charged ions like hydrogen are concentrated highly in an acid. (2)
Enough of that science talk, though. If your pH is too low, this means that yeast can grow rapidly. The yeast we are referring to in particular is called Candida albicans, which is present in the vagina and large intestine. Humans have evolved with this yeast to help us digest food and overcrowd harmful bacteria. When in overgrowth, it can cause serious problems for our bodies. (3)
Lifestyle Factors that Cause Yeast Overgrowth
Whether your yeast infection is in the genitals, skin, or intestines, the contributing factors are generally the same and can be considered for all cases.
On the physical scale, wearing underwear made of harsh fabric that is too tight and doesn’t allow your skin to “breathe” will allow yeast to overgrow. Humans are supposed to allow air to reach all areas of their skin because oxygen is a natural antibiotic against certain pathogens. (4)
Using the following products may reduce the acidity levels inside the vagina:
- Feminine hygiene products
- Scented sprays
- Bubble baths
- Low quality tampons
Your weight may also contribute to the likelihood of getting a yeast infection. If fatty areas of the body are allowed to fold over, yeast may be able to grow in these areas that don’t have proper air ventilation.
If you know anything about brewing alcoholic beverages, you’ll know that yeast turns sugar into alcohol as a byproduct. Thus, you can assume that eating a diet high in sugar will feed the yeast in your digestive tract. If the yeast in your colon is allowed to overgrow into areas where it does not naturally belong, the organisms can cause physical cuts in your intestines and spread to your bloodstream to find more sugar. This is what the natural health community calls “candida overgrowth.”
Medical Conditions That Affect Yeast Infections
Women that take birth control pills are more likely to get a yeast infection because of the way these pills affect your hormones. These pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin, a synthetic version of progesterone. (5)
The presence of these synthetic hormones will disrupt your body’s natural balance of hormones and lead to yeast overgrowth. The presence of estrogen in your digestive system allows Candida albicans yeast to attach itself to the hormone and naturally cause your estrogen levels to decrease. While that happens, natural progesterone levels will increase.
This is the perfect environmental condition for yeast to flourish, consume the sugar your eat, and start to spread to areas where they do not belong and may cause harm to your health.
Other medical factors that may affect your likelihood of developing yeast infections include:
- Having diabetes
- Autoimmune disorders like AIDS
- Lack of sleep
- High blood sugar
Can Antibiotics Cause Infections?
Some antibiotics are specifically known to encourage the growth of yeast because it makes your body more or less acidic. This is likely because this type of environment with an off-balanced pH may make it harder to kill pathogenic bacteria while making it easier for yeast to thrive. (6)
Any type of antibiotic can change the balance of bacteria in your body. Broad spectrum antibiotics, however, are highly linked to yeast infections because they kill a wide range of good and bad bacteria inside our bodies, including:
In many experts’ opinions, the answer is a clear YES: antibiotics can cause yeast infections directly.
How Can Antibiotics Cause Yeast Infections?
The word “antibiotic” literally translates to “against life.” These drugs will wipe out all bacteria, fungi and some viruses, as well as probiotic bacteria that live in symbiosis with your body. These beneficial bacteria are present in our digestive system, on our skin, and inside the vagina. They work to crowd out pathogens and keep yeast in check to maintain a healthy environment.
When a person takes an antibiotic, they are killing the healthy strains of bacteria that prevent yeast overgrowth. It might take a long time for probiotics to regrow after stopping antibiotics and it is possible that some healthy strains of bacteria may never appear again. This is why taking an antibiotic can be very dangerous for your health as well as your childrens’ because you will eventually pass on all your probiotics to your children.
If you have to take an antibiotic due to an infection in your body causing serious illness, the best thing that you can do is take a quality probiotic supplement so that you can quickly replenish your beneficial microbiome after you wipe it out.
Health experts recommend a probiotic with a high count of colony-forming units (CFUs) to maximize the potential for colonies to stay inside your digestive system where they are needed.
Natural Products that Can Treat Yeast Infections
Whether you are a man or a woman, there are some simple and natural ways to reduce the chances of getting a yeast infection if you know you are prone to them. On top of that, they can easily be treated.
- Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories
This product is extremely effective at balancing the acidity of your vagina. It contains beneficial bacteria that can defend against infection and yeast overgrowth. Unbalanced pH may lead to susceptibility to fertility problems, infections, STDs and inflammatory diseases.
- Probiotic with Cranberry and D-Mannose
This is a very good probiotic specifically designed for women that are prone to yeast infections, UTIs and digestion issues. You can take this probiotic through your mouth and the pH of your vagina will be controlled by the bacteria that will spread there through the supplement. Cranberry and D-Mannose will prevent UTIs as well as cramping, bloating, gas and other digestive disorders.
- Vaginal Treatment for treating current yeast infections
This medication works as an antifungal, which will cure your yeast infection and reduce vaginal burning, itching and discharge. It is highly recommended by many professionals and hasn’t been proven to cause any side effects or long-term health problems. It is so popular for a reason and very inexpensive.
Natural Tips for Preventing Yeast Infections
It’s easy to take care of yourself in a way that can prevent yeast infection if you are prone to them. These tips involve getting rest, avoiding stress and consuming healthy foods.
If you have diabetes, make sure your blood sugar is under control because high blood sugar may cause yeast to infect various parts of your body.
If you take antibiotics or birth control, make sure that you take a quality probiotic to protect your healthy bacteria so that yeast is not able to overgrow.
Also consider good quality feminine hygiene products to prevent the promotion of an environment that is suitable for yeast overgrowth.
- Stay clean and dry: Avoiding washing your genital area with soap and substitute with a mild cleanser. Also change out of tight bathing suits and clothes and immediately dry off.
- Probiotics: Supplement with these healthy symbiotic flora that can naturally help your digestion, allergies, and infections from all pathogens. They will overcrowd yeast and control its natural growth to prevent yeast infections.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Use this vinegar as a drink and gentle cleanser to maintain proper systemic pH.
- MSM: Take this supplement to reduce infection by all pathogens.
- Reduce natural moisture: Wear loose-fitting clothes to allow for air flow. Absorbent material like cotton or silk instead of nylon of synthetic fabric will be beneficial.
- Avoid harsh feminine hygiene products: Avoiding douching and using fragrant sprays and powders.
- Bathe intelligently: Avoid hot tubs and don’t take long baths.
- Take extra care during menstruation: Keep the genital area clean and use pads instead of tampons if you are prone to yeast infections. Also try to avoid scented pads or tampons.
- Practice safe sex: Avoid sex if you display symptoms of yeast infection and always use condoms if you aren’t in a committed relationship.
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Talk to you soon,