Candida Yeast Infection & Antibiotics Connection: Can Antibiotics Cause Candida Yeast Infections?
Yes, it is true that antibiotic use can lead to candida infections, I have done a video on the topic which you can watch here. This article will discuss antibiotics, ways in which you can get exposed to them knowingly or unknowingly, and detail all that you need to know about antibiotics and candida connection.
Before I continue with this article, you should know I've recently compiled a list of science-backed ways to get rid of candida yeast infections. You can download my free Candida Report here if you haven't yet.
Antibiotics – what these are?
Antibiotics are exactly what the name says they are: Anti = against, biotic = living component; these are chemical compounds, some of which kill good and bad bacteria, others kill fungi, while some others kill protozoans (amoeba, giardia etc.). Generally, these are medications that are used to treat infections. In some instances, certain antibiotics can be used to even kill cancer cells and form a part of chemotherapy for cancer. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses and are of no use against viral infections.
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Source: Fungi and soil bacteria produce these compounds naturally to compete against other microorganisms. Historically, antibiotics were obtained from these microorganisms. Now there are methods that modify these natural antibiotics to produce what are known as semisynthetic antibiotics. There are also chemical methods to synthesize antibiotics from scratch and these are called as synthetic antibiotics.
Form: Antibiotics for medicinal use can be in the form of tablets, pills and capsules that you take with water or can be in liquid (drinkable) form. They can be in the form of creams, lotions, sprays and are used especially for skin infections, or in form of drops used especially for eye or ear infections. Injectable forms of antibiotics are also available which can either be injected or be given as infusion trough a drip. These are normally used for more serious infections.
Range of killing: Antibiotics can be narrow spectrum or broad spectrum. Narrow spectrum antibiotics (like azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin etc.) target a selected group of bacterial types while broad spectrum antibiotics (like tetracyclines, phenicols, third and fourth generation cephalosporins etc.) target a wider number of bacterial types. Narrow spectrum antibiotics are used when the cause of infection is known. These do not kill as many normal bacteria as the broad spectrum antibiotic will. These also cause less bacterial resistance as they deal with only specific bacteria. Broad spectrum antibiotics can attack many different types of bacteria and therefore are used when the infecting organism is not identified, to prevent infections during an operation, and for treating drug-resistant bacteria that do not respond to other narrow spectrum antibiotics.
Antibiotics like metronidazole kill protozoa as well as bacteria. So taking an antiprotozoal antibiotic will also kill bacteria.
Mode of action: Antibiotics work through different mechanisms. Some make holes in the bacterial cell wall and cause the insides of the cell to leak out, thereby killing the bacterium. Others do not allow the bacterium to form a cell wall. Some hijack the protein making machinery of the bacterium and lead the bacterium to its death. Others attack a bacterium’s DNA while some others attack its cell membrane. There are also antibiotics that stop the metabolism of bacterium to kill it.
Antibiotic resistance: Bacteria develop resistance to antibiotic in a struggle to survive. They develop mechanisms to overcome the effect of antibiotics. A bacterium that has a mechanism to overcome antibiotic is the one that will survive and will reproduce to produce more resistant bacteria. Bacteria can either develop resistance by themselves, or get resistant to an antibiotic by picking up DNA from another bacterium and incorporating in its own DNA, or can get the resistance gene from a viral infection (yes, bacteria also have their own viruses).
The resistant bacterium can either produce an enzyme that degrades the antibiotic, they can modify their protein machinery to prevent the antibiotic from attacking it, they can pump out the antibiotic, or they can develop metabolic pathways that are resistant to the attack of antibiotics.
When we do not take the right dose of antibiotic, we allow some bacterial cells to stay alive and develop resistance. These resistant bacteria then grow more in our environment and can cause infections in different people.
When used properly antibiotics can save lives, but their overuse or improper use can lead to more problems, not only for us but for the society as a whole. I have done a comprehensive video on antibiotics resistance which you can watch here.
How antibiotics cause candida infection?
It is not exactly news that candida infections can be caused by taking antibiotics. In the 1950s it was noticed that antibiotic treatment for an infection somehow increased the infections with certain other types of bacteria and the yeast candida. Scientists came up with different hypotheses as to how and why this seemed to happen:
- According to a theory by Miller, the equilibrium of our normal flora is upset by antibiotics as they also kill other susceptible microorganisms apart from the infection causing bacteria. This allows antibiotic resistant microbes to grow a lot using the nutrients as there is no longer much competition from other microbes.
- Harris from USA claimed in 1950 that our normal flora provides us with certain nutrients and that when our normal flora gets disturbed because of antibiotics, there is a nutritional disturbance which can affect the integrity of our mucous membranes. This allows the microbes to penetrate the mucosa and establish infection which they are not normally able to do.
- In 1951, Moore fromUSA and Pappenfort and Schnall also from USA suggested a third explanation. According to them, antibiotics directly stimulate the growth and/or virulence of candida.
While there is some evidence for the second and third theories, the most accepted theory is Miller’s theory that antibiotics cause an imbalance in the natural microflora which allows overgrowth of candida. A research work published in 2004 by Pletz and colleagues from USA, Germany and Sweden gave indication that there was yeast overgrowth in the gut of healthy volunteers when antibiotic treatment reduced the population of bacteria like lactobacilli, bifidobacterium, clostridium and bacteroides.
Fungi are resistant to antibiotics that target bacteria or protozoa. So, when we take a broad spectrum antibiotic it kills the bacteria (both good and bad), but it cannot kill fungi or antibiotic resistant bacteria. In absence of competition from other organisms, fungi like candida can overgrow and cause trouble. If we are given narrow spectrum antibiotics, these kill few types but not all bacteria. There may also be some good bacteria that get killed in this process. In such a case we will get dysbiosis, but this is less risky as the good bacteria that did not get killed will continue to grow. However, there still is a chance of getting yeast overgrowth depending on the status of our immune system and effect of mild dysbiosis on our system.
Also, some antibiotics may also affect the mucus layer of the colon. Wlodarska and colleagues reported their study on mice in 2011 which showed that by disturbing the microflora, antibiotics also trigger changes in the thickness and integrity of the mucus membrane and immune status of the intestine and suggested that certain antibiotics may give you chronic inflammatory gut conditions and increase the risk of you getting opportunistic gut infections. Candida is an opportunistic organism and can easily take this opportunity to establish itself and cause chronic yeast infection.
Morgun and colleagues from USA in their latest work (November 2015) showed that the impact of antibiotics on us is threefold: killing of microflora which leads to reduction in immunity, destruction of the protective gut lining which can lead to pathogens establishing themselves in the gut tissues, and a change in the way our mitochondria (our cells’ batteries) function which will affect the health of our cells as mitochondria are extremely important for how healthy our cells are. The lower the health of our cells, the easier it is for disease causing organisms to establish themselves.
When we unknowingly take antibiotics…
We know when we are prescribed antibiotics that we are consuming them. However, sometimes we also unknowingly consume antibiotics! These are antibiotics that have been given to animals that we eat – pigs, cows and poultry and dairy. Antibiotics have been used for a long time in animal agriculture not only to prevent disease in animals that are grown in close quarters but also to promote growth in terms of animal size in relation to the amount of feed given. The issue is that the antibiotics given to these animals are present in the meat and animal products that we eat without ever realizing that we are actually consuming antibiotics!
A new EU report showed for the first time that farm animals account for two thirds of all antibiotics used in the 26 European countries. Except in the five Nordic countries and the Netherlands, plans to reduce/stop the use of antibiotics in animal farming have failed. According to an article by the Union of Concerned Scientists USA, at least 70% of all antibiotics in USA are used in livestock to fatten them. Only in California, a bill has been passed recently to strictly control the use of antibiotics in livestock. Although some major fast food chains have now pledged not to use medically important antibiotics to prevent antibiotic resistance, this is unlikely to change the scenario regarding microbial dysbiosis.
So, what are your options then in this scenario? How do you make sure that you are not eating antibiotics along with your food? Go organic. Try and buy as much organic produce as you can – especially when it comes to animal products including dairy. As far as possible, try and get your produce from a local organic farmer. I have also done a video on diet to follow during and after antibiotics you can watch here.
Another source of antibiotics is the dumping of pharmaceutical waste into wastewater by pharmaceutical companies. Flushing down antibiotics in the toilets and improper disposal of unused antibiotics also leads to antibiotics entering the drinking water chain. On your front, make sure that you dispose your antibiotics in a responsible manner and encourage your family and friends also to be extra responsible with antibiotics..
What to do if you have to take antibiotics at some point of time?
Although I normally suggest that you avoid pharmaceutical antibiotics, it may happen that you may have to take antibiotics – especially if you have a severe infection or are undergoing surgery. In such situations taking or not taking antibiotics may mean life or death.
What antibiotics will do is kill the good bacteria along with the infection causing bacteria. This will cause imbalance of the natural microflora in the body and allow yeast to overgrow. So anything that will help you replenish the good bacteria is going to be beneficial. This is going to be a mix of probiotics and prebiotics. Here are a few things that you can include in your diet that will support your microflora while on antibiotics (and also after you are finished with your course of antibiotics):
- Yogurt: Good, natural, plain and organic yogurt contains lactobacilli that are important part of gut and vaginal flora. A small amount of this before breakfast and before going to bed will help.
- Kefir: Kefir is very nutritious and apart from providing nutrition, it also kills candida. A research group from Brazil consisting of Silva and colleagues reported in 2009 that when kefir was fermented with brown sugar, it led to the production of most effective antimicrobial compounds that killed candida. A regular small dose of kefir is therefore likely to help you in your fight against candida while and after being on antibiotics.
- Fermented plant based products: A 2012 review article by Peres and colleagues from Portugal discusses fermented plant material and their microbial contents in relation to colon health. Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) is a good source of lactic acid bacteria. It has long shelf life and distinctive flavour and when properly cured it does not need pasteurization or refrigeration. Similarly, kimchi (a spicy Korean fermentation product) is very nutritious and is also a good source of lactic acid bacteria. Apart from these, Peres and colleagues discuss the importance of table olives as providers of lactic acid bacteria. Thus, a daily dose of plant based fermented foods will help your gut microflora balance.
- Garlic: Garlic is a wonderful thing when it comes to intestinal microflora. Garlic functions in different ways:
- It is antibacterial, antifungal, antiprotozoal and antiviral: Harris and colleagues from UK have described these effects of garlic in details in their review from 2001. It kills a wide variety of disease causing bacteria, fungi and protozoans.
- It does not harm the good bacteria: In 1993, Rees and colleagues from UK showed that garlic has different effects on good and bad bacteria.
- It has prebiotic activity: In an article published in 2013, Zhang and colleagues from China showed that one of the major components of garlic – the garlic fructan – has prebiotic effect on the gut microbes meaning that it supports the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Thus, having up to 3 cloves of raw garlic everyday will be helpful to you if you are having antibiotics. Tzatziki, home-made garlic butter, guacamole or salsa, in salad dressing, are great and tasty ways to include garlic in your diet.
- Other prebiotic containing food: According to a 2013 review article by Joanne Slavin from USA, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, chicory, onions, wheat, oats and soyabeans are good natural sources of prebiotics. Include these in your diet.
- Water: Remember to drink enough water as it not only flushes out the excessive antibiotics, but also helps maintain your gut microbe balance.
Treatment plan for yeast due to antibiotics
If you have already got yeast infection due to antibiotics you need to follow a good, well balanced, wholesome candida diet, throw in some good quality supplements, support your recovery with good probiotics, and also make some specific lifestyle changes that will aid your recovery from candida infection. Let us look at these points.
- Diet: When you already have a candida infection, you will need to follow a candida diet – a diet that will not allow candida to grow while providing you nutrition that you need. You will need to continue a strict diet for couple of weeks after which you can start including some things. You need to stop having any junk food – avoid anything that contains refined flour, sugar, processed food, and soft drinks. Avoid all fruit juices and sugars. Your diet should include nutritious food from different sources – it should preferably be organic. Try to have different kinds of foods on different days. Do not have any alcohol, coffee or strong teas. I can recommend my Candida Crusher Program for permanent relief from candida.
- Supplements: You can take vitamin and mineral supplements to help healing and faster recovery. Additionally, a good candida supplement that would inhibit candida can be a good idea. I can suggest CanXida Remove – it is an advanced antifungal supplement
- Probiotics: It is always a good idea to start probiotics when you are on antibiotics. But if you already have got yeast infection due to antibiotics, it is not too late to start these. I have given some suggestions of natural probiotics in the section above. Additionally, you can include probiotic supplements like CanXida Restore. This is an advanced formula that contains 7 enzymes, 6 probiotic strains which are time release and do not need refrigeration. These help restore the proper balance of intestinal microflora.
- Lifestyle changes: There is no two ways about it – no pill or diet will take care of your candida infection if you do not make the lifestyle changes that are needed. You need to stop your cravings for sugar, stop alcohol completely, make sure that you get enough sleep, keep your mind free of anxiety – practice mind calming exercises or meditation, exercise regularly, and drink enough water.
You can find more details on how to treat a yeast infection on following page.
How to prevent yeast infection while on antibiotics/how to take antibiotics without getting a yeast infection?
I have already answered this please refer to the prevention part of this article.
Do all antibiotics cause yeast infection or there are few that can cause it? If so then which antibiotics are good for yeast infection or there are none?
All pharmaceutical antibiotics have a potential to cause yeast infection. Narrow spectrum antibiotics are less likely to cause yeast infection compared to broad spectrum antibiotics, but as mentioned earlier, whether you get an yeast infection or not will depend on your immune status and how fast you have been able to restore your natural microflora.
What should I take if I have already got yeast infection because of long term antibiotics use?
Please refer to the treatment section, my recommendations are CanXida Remove and CanXida Restore.
Can antibiotics kill candida?
Antibacterial or antiprotozoal antibiotics cannot kill candida. Antifungal antibiotics can kill candida but these pharmaceutical antifungals have their side-effects and also cause antifungal resistance in candida. The better options are natural antifungal agents that function in a manner different to pharmaceutical antifungals and avoid the side-effect and resistance issues.
Is the treatment of yeast infection caused by antibiotics same as any other?
Can you take yeast infection medicine while taking antibiotics?
It is not advisable to take yeast infection medicine while taking antibiotics. This is because when you are taking antibiotics, your normal flora is suppressed. While yeast infection medicine will work to get your yeast infection down, due to lack of normal flora, the infection is likely to come back up. It is better if you finish your course of antibiotics – add probiotics to your diet while on antibiotics and once your antibiotic course is finished wait for a couple of days for residual antibiotics to flush out of your system before starting yeast infection medication.
You should also never take two different kinds of medications without consultation of your doctor/naturopath. This is because of a risk of unwanted and potentially dangerous interactions that can take place between the medications.
How long after antibiotics can you get a yeast infection?
It can take between 7 to 10 days after antibiotics to get a yeast infection.
What to eat to prevent yeast infection while on antibiotics?
Please refer to the treatment and prevention part of the article.
Should I treat a yeast infection while on antibiotics or after I am done taking my antibiotics course?
Please refer to the question on medicine.
Can a man get a yeast infection from taking antibiotics or is it just women that can get it?
Yeast does not discriminate between genders. Both men and women can get it after taking antibiotics.
How soon after antibiotics can I treat a yeast infection?
You should wait at least a couple of days for your body to flush out the antibiotics before you start treating yeast infection.
Can I eat yogurt will that help if I am taking antibiotics?
Yes, yogurt is excellent to take while taking antibiotics as it will replenish some of the good bacteria that antibiotics have killed.
What types of yeast infections can you get from antibiotics?
You can get all kinds of yeast infection after taking antibiotics. When you are taking antibiotic orally or as injection, the antibiotic circulates throughout your system and will kill all the bacteria it encounters. This can make you susceptible to yeast infections of the skin, sexual organs, mouth and gut. In case you are using a topical antibiotic (cream) or drops, there is a likelihood of getting yeast infection in that area. For example, if you use topical antibiotics against bacterial vaginosis for a long time, you are likely to develop yeast infection of the vagina.
How soon or how bad your yeast infection is will depend on what the antibiotic kills (whether it manages to kill all your good bacteria or not – depending on the type of antibiotic used), the status of your immunity and how proactive are you about replenishing the good bacteria in your system.
How long does a yeast infection last after antibiotics?
A yeast infection after antibiotics can last from a few days to months to years. It all depends on how much damage the antibiotic has caused you and how much damage control you have been able to achieve.
Is it good to take probiotics if I am taking antibiotics? Can I take both of them at same time?
Yes, it is good to take probiotics while taking antibiotics – it is actually very important that you do so that you replenish at least some of the good bacteria that have been killed off by the antibiotics.
What should I do if I am supposed to take antibiotics for something else but at same time I have candida?
If you are required to take antibiotics for something else while you have candida, you need to finish your antibiotic course. However make sure that you include some probiotics along with the antibiotics.
What about toyocamycin, the anti-candida antibiotic?
As I can see, toyocamycin is pretty old – the article on it is from 1956. I do not see anywhere that it is suggested for candida in today’s date.
Can antibiotics make candida worse?
Yes, they can make candida worse by causing even more imbalance of the normal flora than you already have.
Why is Candida albicans resistant to antibiotics?
Candida albicans is a fungus, so it is naturally not affected by antibacterial antibiotics. However, because of excessive and improper use of anti-fungal antibiotics, Candida albicans has developed resistance to many antifungal agents.
What are some natural antibiotics for candida?
Some natural antifungals that work against candida are garlic, grapefruit seed extract, oregano oil, and coconut oil. CanXida Remove is an antifungal supplement that contains many of these natural ingredients and thus provides you individual effects of these. It is important to attack candida in multiple ways – this does not allow candida to develop efficient resistance against the antifungals.
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How much yogurt to prevent yeast infection while on antibiotics?
A small amount to yogurt everyday can help you prevent yeast infections while on antibiotics. You should have at least a tablespoon or two of plain natural yogurt every day – if you can, have a small bowl of yogurt every day.
Is it common to get a yeast infection after antibiotics or it happens to only few people?
It is relatively common to get yeast infection after antibiotics. However, some people may not get it. It all depends on their immune status and how fast they are able to bring back their natural microflora back in balance.
Is a yeast infection an allergic reaction to antibiotics?
No it is not an allergic reaction. It is a side-effect of taking antibiotics.
Can I get a yeast infection from my boyfriend taking antibiotics/can you get a yeast infection if your partner is on antibiotics?
If you are not taking antibiotics yourself, you are not likely to get an infection from your partner if they don’t have an infection already. If they do have a yeast infection due to antibiotics, it is advisable to practice safe sex and use protection.
Should I keep taking antibiotics if I have a yeast infection?
Antibiotics are meant to be taken for a short period. Do not overdo your antibiotic course. If you are on an antibiotic already, do not stop it else you will cause resistance to develop in the infective organisms – complete your course. If you are required to start on antibiotics, start probiotics along with these.
Can you use yeast infection cream while on antibiotics?
No, it is not advisable for the same reason as not using yeast treatment while on antibiotics.
Can you do a candida cleanse while taking antibiotics?
No. It is not advisable to do so. Your body is weakened due to a reduction in your bacterial microflora due to antibiotics. Wait for your antibiotic course to finish, give it a couple of extra days and then only embark on a candida cleanse. Of course, you can already start probiotics while on antibiotics.
Can antibiotics for yeast infection delay your period?
Yeast infections by themselves can affect your menstrual cycle. There is no clear evidence that antibiotics for yeast infection can delay a period.
Can strep throat antibiotics cause yeast infection?
Yes they can.