Tag Archive | antibiotics

Benefits of Daily Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines between harmful and beneficial bacteria and work to remove toxins from the body. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.

Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to recolonize and balance the GI tract, and hinder the growth of harmful, toxic bacteria, while also promoting a healthy immune system.

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a vaginal birth while the newborn passes through the birth canal, a newborn picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What are probiotics used for?
Some people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.

Probiotics may also be used to:

• Help with other causes of diarrhea.

• Help prevent infections in the digestive tract.

• Help control immune response (inflammation), as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When using probiotics, the idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Probiotics convert the fiber in food into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that line the intestines. They also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.

Benefits of Probiotics in Pregnancy
Many women suffer from digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and intestinal cramps, during pregnancy. Probiotics help relieve constipation and other intestinal issues by improving gastrointestinal function. The healthy bacteria can also improve the immune system of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Probiotics can help you fight off or avoid colds and other illnesses, which is essential during pregnancy due to a suppressed immune system. Taking probiotics during pregnancy may also help prevent allergies and eczema in both mothers and infants.

A study performed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered a lasting impact on babies whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy. According to this study, babies and toddlers up to 2 years old were 40 percent less likely to suffer from eczema compared to babies whose mothers did not drink probiotics. Additionally, babies who did experience eczema had less severe cases. This study, which was published in the “British Journal of Dermatology,” highlights the effectiveness in preventing eczema in children and did not indicate any adverse risks to the mother or baby.

Parenting; Ask Dr Sears: Probiotics During Pregnancy?; William Sears;
Pregnancy Today; Probiotics and Pregnancy; Teri Brown
Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean & P. Kendall; December 2006
San Mateo Medical Center; Acidophilus and Other Probiotics; 2011

Group B Strep in Pregnancy: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Group B Strep (GBS)?
GBS is one of many common bacteria that live in the human body without causing harm in healthy people. GBS develops in the intestine from time-to-time, so sometimes it is present and sometimes it is not. Group B Strep or GBS can be found in the intestine, rectum, and vagina in about 2 of every 10 pregnant women near the time of birth. GBS is NOT a sexually transmitted disease, and it does not cause discharge, or itching. Unfortunately, it can cause a bladder/urinary tract infection.

2. How Does GBS Cause Infection?
At the time of birth, babies are exposed to the GBS bacteria if it is present in the vagina, which can result in pneumonia or a blood infection. Full-term babies who are born to moms who carry GBS in the vagina at the time of birth have a 1 in 200 chance of getting sick from GBS during the first few days after being born. Occasionally, moms can also get a postpartum infection in the uterus.

3. How Do You Know if You Have GBS?
Around your 35th to 36th week, during a regular prenatal visit, your healthcare provider will collect a sample by touching the outer part of your vagina and just inside the anus with a sterile Q-tip. If GBS grows in the culture that is sent to the lab from that Q-tip sample, your provider will make a note in your chart, and you will be notified at your next prenatal visit that you are GBS positive, The GBS protocol for a positive culture will be discussed at your next visit with your healthcare provider and the expectations of care when you are in labor.

4. How Can Infection from GBS Be Prevented if My Culture is Positive?
If your GBS culture is positive within 4 to 5 weeks before you give birth, your healthcare provider will recommend that you receive antibiotics during labor. GBS is very sensitive to antibiotics (penicillin or penicillin family) and is easily removed from the vagina. A few intravenous doses given up to 4 hours before birth almost always prevents your baby from picking up the bacteria during the birth. It is important to remember that GBS is typically not harmful to you or your baby before you are in labor.

5. Do You Have to Wait for Labor to Take the Antibiotics?
Although GBS is easy to remove from the vagina, it is not easy to remove from the intestine where it lives normally and without harm to you. Although GBS is not dangerous to you or your baby before birth, if you take antibiotics before you are in labor, GBS will return to the vagina from the intestine, as soon as you stop taking the medication. Therefore, it is best to take penicillin during labor when it can best help you and your baby. The one exception is that, occasionally, GBS can cause a urinary tract infection during pregnancy. If you get a urinary tract infection, it should be treated at the time it is diagnosed, and then you should receive antibiotics again when you are in labor.

6. How Will We Know if Your Baby Is Infected?
Babies who get sick from infection with GBS almost always do so in the first 24 hours after birth. Symptoms include difficulty with breathing (including grunting or having poor color), problems maintaining temperature (too cold or too hot), or extreme sleepiness that interferes with nursing.

7. What Is the Treatment for a Baby with GBS Infection?
If the infection is caught early and your baby is full-term, most babies will completely recover with intravenous antibiotic treatment. Of the babies who get sick, about one in six can have serious complications. Some very seriously ill babies will die. In the large majority of cases if you carry GBS in the vagina at the time of birth and if you are given intravenous antibiotics in labor, the risk of your baby getting sick is 1 in 4,000.

8. What If You Are Allergic to Penicillin?
Penicillin or a penicillin-type medication is the antibiotic recommended for preventing GBS infection. Women who carry GBS at the time of birth and who are allergic to penicillin can receive different antibiotics during labor. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to penicillin and what symptoms you had when you got that allergic reaction. If your penicillin allergy is mild, you will be offered one type of antibiotic, and if it is severe, you will be offered a different one.

Provided by Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM

Treating Yeast Infections Naturally

Yeast infection is a form of vaginitis, an inflammation or infection of the vagina. During a lifetime, almost 75 percent of all women are likely to have at least one vaginal yeast infection and nearly half have two or more according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Candida albicans (which is the cause of yeast infections) is naturally occurring in our bodies and only becomes problematic when it reaches levels that our immune systems cannot fight. It is a yeast-like fungus which is often found in the mouth, vagina, and intestinal tract. It is a normal inhabitant of humans that usually does not cause any adverse effects. This fungus, in combination with the right growing conditions for the bacteria, is what manifests as a yeast infection. Despite what you might think, a yeast infection isn’t only an external problem; it’s also an internal problem. There are many things that can trigger an infection and while most medications treat the symptoms, none cure the actual cause of the infections.

So what are the conditions under which these bacteria can thrive and multiply? Candida albicans thrives in warm, moist areas and especially so if your immune system is already struggling, for example, following a bout of flu or during pregnancy. It is further encouraged by situations such as insufficient cleansing of the genitals following sex – particularly anal followed by vaginal sex – as well as the use of oral contraceptives and some antibiotics. Being exposed to a partner who already has a yeast infection makes you more susceptible to developing a similar infection also. Menstruation and sperm also can contribute to getting a yeast infection. Yeast infections are more common after menopause.

  The fact that many people won’t talk about yeast infections is not surprising. If you have trouble getting rid of yeast infections keep reading. You need to treat the actual infection or prevent one from occurring in the first place. You need to find out the cause of why you may be more susceptible to yeast infections than others.

First and foremost, review your diet! There are a host of factors that actually cause an infection to multiply explosively and get out of hand. Simple sugars actually feed a yeast infection. If you want to alleviate your problem right now you must cut out sugar from your diet in as many ways as possible. Candy, sugary desserts, coke, sugary juices, bottle drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks all need to be reduced or ideally cut out. Strive to restore the pH balance of your body’s own acids.

It’s not just women that can be plagued with yeast infections, anyone can get them. Men, women, children, babies, the elderly. A yeast infection can be chronic and hidden with strange or unusual symptoms that occur from time to time.

People who have diabetes are especially prone to yeast infections. Likewise, taking steroids and some antibiotics may also facilitate overwhelming bacterial infection that will manifest as a yeast infection. In fact, any condition – or treatment for other conditions – that affects a person’s immune system may leave them vulnerable to this troublesome infection. HIV and AIDS sufferers or those with cancers are similarly at risk but even people who are stressed or have dietary deficiencies are more likely to experience recurrent yeast infections. Scratches in the vagina (caused during insertion of tampons or other objects) can also promote yeast infections.

Nix the “feminine deodorant sprays;” no soap, nylon bathing suits, or pantyhose without a cotton crotch. Wear only cotton or nothing at all. Hot, moist environments incubate yeast.

Below are some natural remedies to help alleviate symptoms/infection

1. Vitamin E as a suppository or vitamin E oil can be used once or twice/ day for 3 – 14 days to soothe mucous membranes of the female reproductive organ.

 2.  Vitamin A used this way (per vagina) can be irritating to local tissue, should not be used more than once per day for up to 7 days.

 3. Insert unpasteurized, plain yogurt with a small spoon, spatula or vaginal cream applicator. Insert at night and wear a pad.      Repeat for 3 to 7 nights, until symptoms disappear. Douching with yogurt and water can help, too. It also helps to eat a lot of yogurt.

4.  Another option is to create a douche with water and yogurt and insert it via a squeeze bottle.

 5.  Douche with a vinegar/water solution. One tablespoon of vinegar to one quart of water, once a day. Especially effective when  used with yogurt suppositories.

 6. Lactobacilli such as acidophilus are natural residents of a healthy vagina. They prevent overgrowths of yeast. (They also turn milk into yogurt.) Insert two acidophilus capsules into your vagina daily. Adding Lactobacilli vaginally stops yeast from growing and creates copius amounts of lubrication.

7.  Plain unsweetened yogurt which is available in natural food stores can  be inserted as is into the vagina to help maintain or restore natural  bacterial balance.  Be sure the yogurt you use contains live cultures of  acidophilus or lactobacillus (it will say so on the label). Insert at least two (2) tablespoons daily: you will need to wear a pad. Here are some tips on getting it in there. Yogurt can be inserted with an empty tampon inserter, vaginal cream inserter or a turkey baster (the baster works best). Symptoms should be relieved within 48 hours. If the yeast is persistent and you experience chronic or repeated overgrowths, then your partner needs to be treated as well. If your partner is male, have him soak his penis in yogurt or diluted apple cider for 5 minutes daily to kill the yeast living in or on the glans; this way he won’t keep re-infecting you.

8. If neither acidophilus or yogurt cure the yeast, you need to re-acidify your vagina. Boric Acid is the most efficient, and you can purchase it in the drug store. Dilute it one teaspoon to one cup of warm water and mini-douche daily with the barrel of a syringe, or use a diaphragm jelly inserter which can be bought at the pharmacy without having to buy the jelly. Don’t use if the skin is raw or broken, and discontinue if an irritation develops. This is wet and messy but boric acid is anti-bacterial and will cleanse some non-specific vaginitis as well.

9.  Apple cider vinegar douches (2 tablespoons vinegar to a pint of warm water) is very effective. Even though yeast flourishes in an     acidic environment, there is something in vinegar that inhibits its growth. Vinegar can also inhibit the growth of bacteria and        trichomonas by establishing the proper acidity (pH) for the proliferation of “good” bacteria. Don’t douche for longer than 10 days.

10. Drinking apple cider vinegar daily will help in prevention of a yeast infection, keeping balance in your body.

11. Regular douching should be discouraged. The vagina is a self-cleaning environment, so routine douching shouldn’t be necessary and could make your vagina too alkaline. Women who douche more than three times a month are four to five times more likely to have rampant yeast.

Natural home remedies are an alternative to medical treatments, but it is always best to check with your healthcare provider to go over your natural treatment options.

Maintaining a Healthy Vagina

–         Wipe front to back when urinating to avoid bringing bacteria from the rectum forward

–          DO NOT DOUCHE REGULARLY!  This alters the healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina

–        AVOID pads and tampons with deodorant/perfumed scents – chemical irritants are present and can help promote vaginal irritation

–        Avoid chemical irritants that are present in hot tubs, swimming pools, scented toilet paper, bubble bath vaginal  hygiene products   (such as sprays, powers, soaps, douches)

–      DO NOT USE TALCUM POWDER – this is linked to ovarian cancer

–  Change tampons and pads at least every 4-6 hours- be aware of signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome

–  Reduce intake of dairy products and simple sugars – these favor the overgrowth of yeast

–  Consider using condoms for recurrent infections to avoid re-infection

–  Avoid repeated intercourse in a 24 hour period – vaginal pH will not return to normal for 24 hours, and you may be more prone  to an infection during this time

–  Consider taking acidophilus tablets daily – maintains pH in the vagina and prevents the overgrowth of yeast

–  Be aware that vaginal discharge is your friend – discharge is evidence of daily cleaning of your vagina and will change throughout your menstrual cycle

– Wear cotton underwear and/or sleep without underwear – helps promote circulation of air around the vulva – Your vulva sweats more than any other body part

–  Keep your sexual aids clean to avoid re-infection

–  Practice good stress management