Yeast Infections and Diabetes: What is the Link?Studies show nearly 3 out of every 4 women will experience a
yeast infection at least once in their life. For women with diabetes,
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Joseph Apuzzio MD, Gloria Bachmann MD, Gerald Bernstein MD
Studies show nearly 3 out of every 4 women will experience a yeast infection at least once in their life. For women with diabetes, however, the risk is even higher. Why is this the case, and what should women with diabetes do about it? Tune in for expert information and advise.
LISA CLARK: I'm Lisa Clark. Welcome and thanks for joining us for this webcast.
Yeast infections are a problem every woman should be aware of. Studies show that nearly three out of every four women will experience this condition at least once. But women with diabetes are at even higher risk and it's even more important for them to keep in contact with their doctors. Today we'll find out the link between diabetes and yeast infections and what extra precautions women with diabetes should take for prevention and for treatment.
Joining me to discuss this topic we have two gynecologists: Dr. Gloria Bachmann, welcome.
GLORIA BACHMANN, MD: Thank you.
LISA CLARK: Dr. Joseph Apuzzio, welcome to you. And also diabetes specialist Dr. Gerald Bernstein. Thank you all for being here.
I want to start with the link between diabetes and yeast infections, Dr. Bernstein. Why does diabetes increase the risk for developing these?
GERALD BERNSTEIN, MD: It's important to understand what an elevated blood glucose will do. When the blood sugar elevates, two things happen. One, all the body secretions will have an increased amount of glucose. Two, all of the tissues of the body stop functioning normally, and therefore the normal defenses that the body has against intrusion by outside substances -- such as yeast -- will be abnormal.
LISA CLARK: Is the risk different between patients who have Type I and Type II diabetes? And if so, how?
GERALD BERNSTEIN, MD: No, it's not different. An elevated blood sugar is basically acting like a poison. And it will poison both Type I and Type II patients if the glucose is not controlled.
LISA CLARK: Obviously, it's important for any diabetic to control blood sugar. But what are the target blood sugars for women that will make them a little bit safer from developing yeast infections?
GERALD BERNSTEIN, MD: Well, we make a diagnosis of diabetes when the blood sugar is above 126. Our goals are to have the morning and before-meal blood sugar around 100-110 and then, after a meal, no more than 140. Now that's what the normal is. What we have found is that when we extended that, that people developed problems. So we aim for the normal numbers.
LISA CLARK: Dr. Bachman, how about some other general prevention tips to avoid developing a yeast infection?
GLORIA BACHMANN, MD: Well Lisa, let me start by saying that many women who have a yeast infection automatically assume that they're diabetic. The reality is that most are not diabetic. That yeast infections come from lots of reasons. Antibiotic use can cause yeast infections, wet bathing suits for long periods of time can cause yeast infections, oral contraceptive pills can cause yeast infections so there are many other causes.
LISA CLARK: If a woman with diabetes thinks that she has a yeast infection, what should she do? Dr. Apuzzio?
JOSEPH APUZZIO, MD: Well, I think the first thing she should do is visit her doctor to make a diagnosis. The diagnosis is really crucial.
LISA CLARK: And there are certain tests that she should make sure her doctor performs. Is that correct?
JOSEPH APUZZIO, MD: Yes. What I would say is, in order to make a diagnosis, one should do a slide test under the microscope of vaginal secretions to see if one sees the yeast organism that causes the infection. Usually that will suffice. Sometimes one also has to culture the vaginal secretions as well, but that's in a small number of patients. Most patients, one can make the diagnosis with the slide test under the microscope.