Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yeastie Beasties Got Me Again

Just thought I owed you all a quick post to explain why I've been so absent the past few weeks. I haven't even had the time/energy for my usual Weekly Inspiration posts every week.

Yeast overgrowth/thrush/candida got me again. This has become a chronic problem for me (and for my son, also) that keeps flaring up periodically. It seemed to come from nowhere this time, knocking me flat with extreme flu-like aches and exhaustion for over a month. I figured it out sooner this time than with past flare-ups, but it still took me a full month on antifungal prescription medications before I started to feel well, at the end of last week.

Since there was no obvious trigger this time (for instance, I hadn't been on antibiotics recently) and I have been sticking to all my natural yeast overgrowth prevention approaches (strict diet, strong probiotics, and lots of antifungal supplements), I was puzzled as to why this happened now and hit me so hard. Looking back at my records (it's so helpful to keep track!), I saw the following sequence of events:
  • July - September - took doxycycline (an antibiotic) for Lyme disease (a new infection that I caught early and was able to get rid of fairly easily this time)
  • Early October - got bronchitis and then pneumonia which required two rounds of antibiotics - Zithromax and Cipro
  • Severe yeast overgrowth flare-up (is it any wonder why?) starting in mid-September and continuing through to mid-November - it took about a month of antifungal medications to get that under control.
  • Early February - yeast overgrowth flares up again, just after Mardi Gras 
So, based on that, I am thinking that I didn't completely get the yeast under control back in the late fall - I stayed on the antifungals just long enough to start feeling better and get rid of the thrush in my mouth, but it is likely that there was still too much yeast down in my GI tract. With that being the case, all it took was a couple of days off my usual strict diet (I did have some King Cake and bread pudding for Mardi Gras!) to trigger another bad flare-up.

So, this time, even though I am feeling better this week, after 4 weeks on alternating Diflucan and Ketoconazole, I am going to stay on the antifungals longer (switching to just Diflucan today) in order to make sure the yeast is really under control and I won't be back in the same crisis in another month. A friend who's a veterinarian also suggested taking a preventive dose of antifungals just one or twice a week long-term - she said it works for the animals she treats with chronic yeast problems. So I will probably try that, too, if my doctor agrees.

If you have never considered yeast overgrowth as a factor in your illness, you should. It is very common in people with ME/CFS, especially those who've been sick longer than 3 years, due to the particular type of immune dysfunction we have. It can make all symptoms worse but especially brain fog, flu-like aches, sore throat, and exhaustion. Here's more information on diagnosing and treating yeast overgrowth.

As for me, I am happy to be feeling like myself again (my ME/CFS self but still)! My baseline these days is actually pretty good, and I am thrilled to be back to taking walks and doing small bits of weight work...and just being able to go to the grocery store or drugstore and get off the couch!


Jane T said...

Hi Sue, sorry the yeasties got ya. I had a bout w/ it too I believe recently and it takes at least 3 Diflucan to clear it up. This time I'm questioning if I could have used 4. I was having symptoms and since I had an approaching follow-up appt w/ my Dr (45 min away) I waited those 4 days or so to get checked. In that time i used anti-fungals and hydrocortisone topically and then out of some slight desperation I added in triple antibiotic ointment. I abstained from the latter only for a cpl of days before a culture. My Dr said an infection seemed obvious yet after waiting a long WEEK it came back negative for anything. So, topical meds must have skewed things or killed the culture while it was waiting to be tested. I was going to be headed to Dr P's on that Mon and it was the Fri before. Not to mention that was my local Drs' last day b4 a 2 wk vacay. And the problem had been worsening! I had been put on Rifaxin for SIBO (strongly positive 2 hr breath test) at the time of my ofice visit/culture which the pharmacist said wouldn't treat a bacterial issue outside the gut but could worsen yeast elsewhere. So, via email go-betweeen w/ the medical assistant and to the Dr I came up w/ an idea how to hit whatever it was and get it gone. Thank you Google! Lol. I listed out like 3 treatment ideas so something could happen without so much back and forth. Went w/ prescription antibio cream and Diflucan. A few ideas/questions as we all try to glean the best approaches. 1) Have you done a GI Effects complete stool analysis by Genova Diagnostcs or perhaps the Great Plains Lab? It measures yeast and I read in Dr Neil Nathan's book "On Hope and Healing" that Genova at least sensitivity tests most effective treatments so you can target the issue. They check yeast, bacteria, parasites, etc. Mine was a bit off w/ some colony that doesn't belong but my Dr never got an answer....she emailed them as she struggles w/ premature deafness and is going thru the cochlear implant process. High e. Coli also, but inflammation profile SUPPOSEDLY ok. Well, Rifaxin helped restore my appetite which was fantastic and virtually no gut pain or issues while on it, now a few days off and I'm having IBS crampies. Possibly from going off FODMAPS diet and consuming wheat. Dr. P should help me figure it out at my treatment plan/test results appt med April. Worried gut motility issues will once again lead to SIBO if not addressed. I take magnesium citrate and malate and planning to soon get Chlorella and/or spirulina to help. Taking VSL#3 probiotic at 1 a daya nd come the 1st I'll do 2 a day at least. Any advice there? 2) How did the probiotic toothpaste work out that Dr. Courtney Craig experienced success with? It may not be a total solution to thrush but I'm curious...

Jane T said...

3) I saw this and thought of doing it b/c I'm stuck w/ braces (they could have been off mos ago but w/ TMJ and FM and since more painsince CFS relapse I haven't been able to face wearing the necessary rubberbands) and I get stubborn plaque, and want improved health...and I thought of you! Dr. Josh Axe seems pretty sharp, and though the title of this article seems a bit far off for the conventional thinker, the references are good and I have heard of the cavity healing thing. BUT, the part specifically I'm thinking of....besides the fantastic advice on sprouted or sourdough (if wheat not an issue) to avoid high levels of phytic acid in grain and magnesium, essential mineral etc binding....the part on OIL PULLING might just really help! "Oil Pulling – Used for centuries by Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling is a fantastic oral detoxification procedure that has gained some popularity in the U.S. the last several years. Simply done by swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes, this simple process has been praised to cure everything from gingivitis to headaches to systemic diseases like diabetes! 
If you can’t do 20 minutes, 3-5 minutes is still good. I recommend using coconut oil or MCT Oil and a drop or two of clove and/or tea tree essential oils for maximal antiseptic and antifungal power. Here are some tips:

The best time to oil pull (like most other detoxification procedures) is first thing in the morning right after you get out of bed.
Don’t let the 20 minutes time frame deter you. You won’t even notice 20 minutes have gone by if you do this during your normal morning routine (i.e. while you shower, put your clothes on and prep for the day).
Immediately afterwards, rinse your mouth out with warm water. Use salt water for added antimicrobial properties.
Don’t be shocked if the oil/saliva mixture you spit out is milky white or yellow.
Finally, brush your teeth as normal.
Note: This should be a relative relaxing process, so don’t feel compelled to vigorously swish your mouth with oil for the entire time or else you’re bound to get sore jaw muscles. Simply and gently move the oil in your mouth and through your teeth without swallowing any of it." I'm trying it this AM! All the best to you, Sue : ) We're all on this continual health betterment journey together.

Sue Jackson said...

Jane -

Interestingly, I have never in my life ever had a vaginal yeast infection. The yeast overgrowth seems to be just in my GI tract and usually shows up as thrush. The probiotic toothpaste does seem to help.

Sue Jackson said...

I've heard of it before, Jane, but have never tried it myself. I am in good shape again now, thanks to the antifungals, but I will keep oil pulling in mind.

As for diet, we eat Paleo (in part because of our yeast problems) - so no grains at all.

Thanks for the suggestion!


Jane T said...

That's good. Well, the oil pulling w/ coconut oil (raw, organic, extra virgin) and a drop or 2 of tea tree and oregano oil is something to add to your arsenal at least. Since the FODMAPS diet I have been moving in the direction of paleo. Problem is I can only handle so much meat (preference) and don't want to overload on that. I do eggs, nuts, and seeds incld chia for additional protein. Looking at sprouted grains, nuts, and certain beans (in accordance w/ FODMAPS) to avoid the phytic acid. I found some great books on Amazon and recipes on some blogs and nutrition experts' sites. Going to try using coconut, rice, some almond, and possibly spelt four when I eat carb or carb-like stuff. I have quinoa and have to figure out how to jazz that up. For now I'm really restricting most even gluten free grains to hopefully prevent any issues from reccuring. The IBS/GI cramping seems to rear it's ugly head w/ wheat consumption...I've tried eating it like 2-3 times for a while and then I end up not feeling so great for a few days. My IGA I think it is is high for wheat, rye, basically gluten-containing grains but I got by w/ them until more recently I guess. A Great Plains Lab urine test for gluten, casein etc is processing. That'll be interesting. Apparently why some ppl esp w/ autoimmune issues and ME/CFS and FM are bothered by gluten is they lack an enzyme to break it down...therefore it will then show up undigested in your urine. No bueno.

Jane T said...

Interesting! I'm not sure if that's better or worse overall. A lot of the immune system is in the gut they say. I wonder the science behind why it show up there mostly. Hm. Bodies are sure complex! I've heard raw, organic goat and cow kefir is excellent if you tolerate dairy. Also raw, grass fed butter and yogurt. Not always easy to find. And you probably already know such things. The VSL#3 is recognized by the Gastroenterology Assn and a bunch of has wayy more bacterial units than most other probiotics, but I think they say they are freeze dried. When I was reading Dr. Neil Nathan's book he mentioned that when testing his patients before and after some freeze dried probiotics (unnamed) that are supposed to be good--they didn't show up much or not as much as expected in the stool test. I don't think they are enteric coated either to better survive stomach acid (mines low anyway). Thinking VSL#3 plus Probiotic Pearls by Enzymatic Therapy might cover all the bases well. They say if low stomach acid the undigested protein is inflammatory or irritating to GI walls. Doing Bromelain w/ oily or protein-rich meals until I find what's for sure best.