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Do you have Thrush?

Updated on December 7, 2011

Thrush is also known as Candidiasis or a Vaginal Fungal Infection


Thrush or vaginal candidiasis is caused by a fungus called candida albicans. Candida albicans is naturally present in the vagina, but when there is an overgrowth women can experience vaginal irritation and discomfort. Did you know that 75% of women will suffer from a yeast infection at some stage during their life? But do not fear... Candidiasis is a localised infection and responds well to treatment, so if you’re a sufferer, read on to find out how to treat and management this common condition.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of thrush include burning and itching in the vagina and vulva area, a thick, whitish vaginal discharge, pain with sexual intercourse and burning with urination. These symptoms are typical of any number of vaginal complaints so be sure to check with your medical practitioner before you begin treatment.

Diagnosis

A smear test with your medical practitioner is the best way to determine whether you have vaginal candidiasis or not. They will then inspect the sample under a microscope and/or culture it to see if candida albicans is present.

Self-diagnosis is useful, but the symptoms of thrush are similar to many other vaginal conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), cytolic vaginosis (CV) and many others. It is always best to get a professional diagnosis before beginning treatment for thrush.

A case in point: CV is a condition that mimics a vaginal yeast infection but is actually caused by an overgrowth of lactobacillus, the bacteria used to treat thrush, so thrush treatments could actually worsen the condition and increase the sufferer’s discomfort. This happens surprisingly often, with victims unable to determine why their symptoms aren’t improving with treatment. If you do not respond to thrush treatment, then you may have cytolytic vaginosis and not a yeast infection.

Causes of Fungal Infections

As mentioned, candida albicans is naturally present in the body and their growth is checked by the body’s immune system and the person’s general health. When the delicate balance in the body is disrupted due to certain factors, the yeast takes over and causes thrush.

The most common contributing factor to candidiasis is a weakened immune system or metabolic illness such as diabetes. Other common factors that can disrupt the balance of flora in the vagina are the use of detergents or douches in the vaginal area, frequent or prolonged use of antibiotics, pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives, poor vaginal cleansing or bad personal hygiene, not washing the vaginal area after sex, using scented lubricants, sensitivity to condoms or sex aids, a diet high in simple carbohydrates with insufficient roughage, and wearing wet swimwear or tight fitting sportswear for long periods of time.

Treatments for Thrush

Vaginal fungal infections are treated with anti-fungal drugs such as clotrimazole, topical nystatin, fluconazole, and topical ketoconazole.

Thrush creams are effective in treating vaginal irritation and burning, and come in the form of a cream or pessary/suppository inserted into the vagina.

Oral treatments include a once-off tablet consisting of the active ingredient flucanozole, which practically wipes out the yeast infection. Ask your doctor for a prescription for this, if you have thrush. It certainly does the trick. Within one or two days you will be thrush free!

Alternative Treatments for Thrush

Probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus helps restore the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina.

A good multivitamin or high doses of Vitamin C helps the immune system combat infections.

Essential fatty acids such as Omega-6, evening primrose oil and fish oils help reduce inflammation in the body.

Other vitamins that can be effective are Vitamin B Complex, Calcium and Propolis.

Herbs that can be effective

Garlic taken orally or a peeled raw garlic inserted into the vagina overnight can have a dramatic effect on symptoms.

Tea tree oil, used in aromatherapy, has antibacterial and antifungal properties so a few drops in a warm bath or sitz bath can help relieve symptoms and fight the infection.

Echinacea boosts the immune system to help fight off disease and infection.

Hemeopathic Thrush Remedies


Homeopathic remedies can also be effective in treating candidiasis but consult a homeopath or natural health practitioner if you have little or no knowledge of homeopathy.

Homeopathy is a safe and effective way to treat many conditions, so homeopathic books and charts can also be useful.

These days readymade homeopathic treatments are common in many local pharmacies, but if in doubt, as a professional for advice.

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