Untreated Lyme disease may itself weaken the body’s defences against Candida overgrowth leading to the common symptoms of thrush and a vast number of other symptoms that may be associated with an unfavorable imbalance in gut flora.
Almost everyone has some resident population of the troublesome yeast, Candida Albicans, in their system but this is largely held in check by other elements in the body such as so-called ‘friendly’ bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus. A diet high in sugar, alcohol, certain yeasts, or foods that may be contaminated with moulds such as nuts, dried fruit, and mushrooms, can lead to Candida overgrowth as the yeast can flourish under such conditions. Lyme disease patients may find that minimizing such foods in the diet, or eradicating them for a brief period, can help to reduce the symptoms of Candida and thrush and allow anti-candida medications to work more effectively.
Lyme Disease Antibiotics and Candida Overgrowth
Lyme disease antibiotics are often indiscriminate in the types of bacteria they kill and are unable to recognize the differences between those bacteria essential for gut health and those which are detrimental to the body. The population of gut bacteria, along with bacteria in the mouth and in the vagina, are carefully balanced to keep the body healthy and the immune system strong. When antibiotics are used these healthy bacteria, and with them the health of the immune system, are adversely affected, making subsequent infections more likely until the digestive flora have been restored using probiotics (and prebiotics). Lyme disease gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea and nausea are also detrimental to the gut’s flora and immune defences and patients may find that their symptoms become part of a cycle that is hard to break away from.
Steroids, Lyme Disease, and Yeast Infections
Patients with Lyme disease may also have a history of taking prednisone or other medications that compromise the immune system, possibly due to initial misdiagnosis with an autoimmune disease such as lupus, or other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, or fibromyalgia. Patients may be using oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy during Lyme disease, or when using antibiotics unsuitable in gestation or breastfeeding. Oral contraceptives can change the pH levels of the reproductive tract and create an environment more favorable for bacterial overgrowth, leading to vaginal thrush.
One Lyme disease antibiotic, erythromycin, is particularly difficult for patients to tolerate orally as it can produce gastrointestinal upset as well as promote yeast overgrowth. Antibiotic treatment is necessary however to cure Lyme disease and patients and doctors need to work together to ensure that preventative steps are taken to minimize the risks of Lyme disease yeast infection during and after treatment.
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