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Quiz: Do You Know How to Tame the Yeast Beast?

  • Deepi Brar
  • Posted March 11, 2013

Usually yeast is our friend, living in harmony with us, helping us make fluffy bread and hearty beer, even inhabiting our digestive system. But one particular fungus among us, Candida albicans, often grows beyond its normal stable levels, causing a yeast "infection" (also known as candidiasis or monilia). In the vagina, for example, an overgrowth causes itching, redness and other annoying symptoms, and an infection in the mouth (called thrush) causes sore, white patches. Do you know how to keep yeast beasties in place?

1. You're more likely to get yeast infections if you live in a humid climate. True or false?

True

False

2. Douching regularly can prevent yeast infections. True or false?

True

False

3. Men can catch yeast infections from women. True or false?

True

False

4. Which of these natural remedies may stop yeast from growing?

a. Tea tree oil

b. Jasmine oil

c. Neem oil

d. All of the above

5. Which of these foods can prevent yeast infections?

a. Tart apples

b. Plain yogurt

c. Dark chocolate

d. All of the above

6. Recurring yeast infections can be a sign of another illness. True or false?

True

False

7. Candida is a system-wide yeast infection that can cause fatigue, depression, and recurring colds. True or false?

True

False

8. The new one-day and three-day treatments are more effective than the older seven-day treatments for vaginal yeast infections.

True

False

Your Results

1.You're more likely to get yeast infections if you live in a humid climate. True or false?

The correct answer is: False.

Although yeast thrives in warm, moist environments, it's the immediate environment in the seat of your pants that matters more than the climate you live in. Tight or wet clothes and synthetic fabrics trap in moisture and promote yeast growth, while loose, breathable cottons keep the air circulating and keep the yeast from getting too comfy.

2. Douching regularly can prevent yeast infections. True or false?

The correct answer is: False.

There's a delicate balance among the different bacteria that normally live in your vagina, and that balance depends on the pH (the acidity) of the environment. Regular douching can upset the balance by changing the vaginal pH and washing out certain good bacteria. This allows unwelcome bacteria and fungi to take over.

3. Men can catch yeast infections from women. True or false?

The correct answer is: True.

Yeast infections are more common in women, but men aren't immune - yeast can cause infections in the glans (tip) of the penis. Some men are more prone to them, including diabetics and men who have not been circumcised. Symptoms include a red rash and itching or burning in the glans or the foreskin. A yeast infection in a man can sometimes explain recurring infections in his female partner.

4. Which of these natural remedies may stop yeast from growing?

The correct answer is: a. Tea tree oil.

Laboratory studies show that even a 0.25 percent solution of tea tree oil (that's one part per 400) can keep yeast from multiplying. Many natural medicine experts recommend douching with one and a half tablespoons of tea tree oil in a cup of warm water once a day to fight off an active infection until symptoms go away. Some naturopathic doctors recommend trying a similar douche with neem oil, but it's best to skip it; while neem can fight plaque-forming bacteria in the mouth, it isn't a proven anti-yeast remedy. Jasmine oil just smells very pretty, but it won't kill yeast.

5. Which of these foods can prevent yeast infections?

The correct answer is: b. Plain (unsweetened) yogurt.

Studies show that applying yogurt with active acidophilus cultures -- or even eating it -- can prevent yeast infections by bringing the vaginal yeast and bacteria back into balance. Sugars, including regular sugar (sucrose) from sugarcane and fructose from fruit, can make you more prone to infections by raising your blood sugar. (Yeast love to feast on glycogen, a simple sugar; glycogen levels in vaginal mucous increase along with blood sugar levels.)

6. Recurring yeast infections can be a sign of another illness. True or false?

The correct answer is: True.

Since yeasts grow more easily when your blood sugar is high or your immune system is run down, recurring infections can be an early sign of diabetes, autoimmune disorders, or even HIV infection. They don't always mean that something is wrong, though -- many women get yeast infections more often while pregnant and after menopause. Antibiotics also make you more prone to yeast because they kill off all the other bacteria that keep the yeast in check.

7. Candida is a system-wide yeast infection that can cause fatigue, depression, and recurring colds. True or false?

The correct answer is: False.

While yeast can cause a body-wide infection called systemic candidiasis or candidemia, it's not a subtle thing -- it causes a high fever and very low blood pressure and can be fatal if not treated quickly. Lately, some naturopathic doctors have been saying that a chronic, low-level form of candidiasis, also called candida, is responsible for many common conditions such as fatigue and colds. But so far there's no evidence that candida is a real condition. Even integrative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil calls it a "faddish disease" with no scientific basis.

8. The new one-day and three-day treatments are more effective than the older seven-day treatments for vaginal yeast infections.

The correct answer is: False.

The shorter course of treatment just means fewer applications of a higher dose of medicine than the seven-day courses. It still takes about the same amount of time (about three to seven days) for the medicines to get rid of the yeast. For recurring infections, some doctors recommend the seven-day treatment because you get a consistent dose of medicine for a longer time and are more likely to fully get rid of the beasties.

References

Dr. Andrew Weil. Candidiasis. Natural Health, Natural Medicine online.

Nyirjesy P, et al. Over-the counter and alternative medicines in the treatment of chronic vaginal symptoms. Obstet Gynecol 1997 Jul 90:1 50-3.

Mayo Clinic. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia [Maiden and Betche] Cheel). August 2005.

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