Why do antibiotics give me a yeast infection?

Why do antibiotics give me a yeast infection?

The human body is a host for billions of organisms that work to keep us healthy by balancing pH, aiding in digestion, and protecting certain tissues. As strange as it may seem, fungus is one of those organisms that live within your body, specifically the yeast kind called candida. Normally, candida does not cause any problems because the bodies defense cells (antibodies) keep it check (Jenkinson and Douglas, 2002). Additionally, candida coexists with bacteria, this relationship between them also plays a role in limiting the overgrowth of yeast. If this balancing act is disrupted, it can lead to overgrowth of yeast causing symptoms such as white plaque/discharge, itchiness, and inflammation of tissues. 

The cause of the disruption can be due to various reasons: diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or pregnancy (Cleveland Clinic), which are states of compromised immunity. For generally healthy individuals, antibiotic use can be the cause of infection. Antibiotics kill harmful bacteria; but they can also kill the beneficial bacteria that helps to control the excessive growth of yeast.

To avoid this possible complication (emphasis on “possible” because it is not a guarantee) it is recommended to consume yogurt and probiotics in conjunction with antibiotic use. Yeast infections are treatable with over-the-counter antifungals, but it may require a visit to a medical provider for prescription medications. Recurring yeast infections should also be followed up with your medical provider. 

The following are tips to avoid yeast infections:

  • Do not take antibiotics that are not prescribed for you
  • Do not take antibiotics for viral infections 
  • Do not use vaginal douching products – they can kill bacteria that controls yeast
  • Do not use deodorant (scented) tampons or pads.
  • Change out of wet clothing, especially bathing suits, as soon as you can.

This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.

There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.

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