1. I have lupus. What infections should I worry about?
Lupus can cause many infections (respiratory system, urinary tract, shingles, etc). It weakens the immune system so that the body is unable to fight any bacterial, fungal, parasite overtake. Furthermore, if you have lupus, you are most likely taking immunosuppressive medicines to control your overactive immune system. Because the use of these drugs also restricts the body’s response to fighting infections, it leaves the affected person in a vulnerable situation where infections can easily overtake or overgrow. One such infection that you would be vulnerable to getting would be a yeast infection.
Because the body is already in a weakened immune state due to lupus, fighting infections can become that much harder and may require the need of medication to treat them. If your doctor prescribes you antibiotics, you must be careful with its use as some antibiotics, such as Sulfa, may lower your blood cell counts and even give you skin rashes. However, before you self-diagnose yourself with an infection, ensure that you are not dealing with the symptoms of lupus itself. For example, flare ups and inflammation are both common in lupus and a yeast infection, so make sure that you get your doctor to check the condition before you treat it.
While invasive fungal infections in those with systemic lupus are not frequent, they can be quite dangerous if present. A study conducted in Morocco demonstrated that there was high morbidity related to infections in those suffering from lupus. It is important that infections are promptly diagnosed and treated appropriately to decrease the risks of mortality.
2. I am pregnant and very itchy around my breast and belly. Why is that?
Being pregnant definitely changes a lot for a woman. These changes come in hormonal ways affecting mood, body changes (mainly stretching of the skin), leg cramps, nausea, preeclampsia, etc. One change that some pregnant women may notice is itchiness, mainly in the breast and belly area. Mild itching is common as 20% of women get itchy during their pregnancy. Itchiness during pregnancy is mostly contributed to the stretching of the skin of the breast and the belly. The stretching helps to accommodate the increase in size of those two body parts.
If you have severe itchiness accompanied by redness or flakiness of the breast area, you may be dealing with a yeast infection, mainly the growth of candida. It is actually not that uncommon for women to contract a yeast infection during their pregnancy. If you suspect having a yeast infection during your pregnancy, please consult your doctor before attempting at any treatment (whether over the counter or at home remedies) as not to compromise the health of your pregnancy and increase the risks of other problems. This includes refraining from taking any anti-fungal medications or natural anti-fungals, especially in the first trimester.
Once your doctor confirms the presence of an overgrowth of yeast, the first thing you can do is to make some changes to your diet. Stay away from alcohol, sugary foods. Include lots of garlic and oregano in your meal, cook with coconut oil. If you have a vaginal yeast infection, you can do very gentle douches and washes. In this video, you can watch Eric Bakker explaining why a pregnant or even a breastfeeding woman should stay away from antifungals during their pregnancy or breastfeeding time.
3. I am pregnant and very itchy in and around my vagina. Please help!
Most often than not, women who are pregnant can contract a yeast infection, especially in their second trimester. Signs of a yeast infection during pregnancy is the same as in those who are not pregnant. This includes white discharge which looks like cottage cheese and smells somewhat odd. Other common symptoms are itchiness, redness, irritation of the vagina accompanied by a burning sensation during sex or urination. Having a yeast infection will not affect the pregnancy, but they are hard to control as most of the available treatment will be off limits to the pregnant woman. The affected woman may be in a lot of discomfort as a result.
A pregnant woman is more susceptible to yeast infections during her pregnancy due to hormonal changes and the body’s inability to keeping up with the chemical changes that are occurring in the vagina. During pregnancy, there is more sugar in vaginal secretion which feeds the present yeast leading to an imbalance and overgrowth of candida in the area.
Before self diagnosing yourself with vaginal yeast infection, it is imperative that you seek medical consultation to confirm your suspicion. Your doctor will determine the best course of action to treat the infection. They may prescribe only vaginal creams or suppositories. It is important that you treat the infection before the delivery of your baby as yeast can pass through to the baby during birth. In babies, yeast infection shows up as oral thrush and diaper rash and will need treatment. Untreated vaginal yeast infection may also contribute to baby’s low birth weight and prematurity after delivery.
4. How is my multiple sclerosis related to the health of my gut?
Research now shows a clear link between multiple sclerosis and candida. There are two independent studies – one was done in 2010 in Madrid and the other one was done in 2012 in Switzerland. The study in Switzerland found candida linked to the development or onset of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatism. We have now become aware that candida is linked with many different kinds of autoimmune diseases. Eric Bakker explains the link between the two in his video here.
The importance of a healthy gut flora is integral in keeping a strong immune system. When the bacterial flora of the gut is disturbed or imbalanced, candida takes the opportunity to overgrow. The overgrowth can predispose us to many illnesses, diseases, and conditions. In this study, Dr. Zielinski explains how in the absence of a healthy gut environment, development of chronic illness are increased and the key cells that cause these illnesses develop an anti-inflammatory twin. The link between MS and candida in the body depends on how the immune system responds to the candida overgrowth. As a result, it can cause inflammation and other imbalances within the tissues and cells. With the presence of candida driven inflammation, the body is left open to development of foreign diseases. This happens when the yeast takes over the gut, breaking down the stomach’s lining and spilling itself into the bloodstream. The toxins, once in the blood stream, can trigger an autoimmune response attacking both the good and the bad cells.
If you suspect having candida or are not sure, you can begin by taking the following test. You will also want to request your doctor to do a comprehensive stool test to determine the presence of candida. Treating candida and bringing back a balance between your good gut bacteria and candida can be a start to healing inflammation, which as a result can help with MS. You can go on a candida cleanse, and try supplements which help with eliminating the yeast overgrowth.