Vaginal yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This yeast normally coexists with other friendly bacteria on the skin, mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract, mouth etc. It is harmless in small numbers and its number is controlled by the normal flora in a healthy immune system. But when the immune system is compromised due to various factors, the yeast multiply unchecked, thus causing yeast infection. Some vaginal yeast infection patients try to treat their medical condition with an antifungal medication called fluconazole. But do fluconazole and vaginal yeast infection share an effective relationship?
Fluconazole belongs to a new subclass of synthetic triazole agents and is effective against a broad spectrum of fungi. This drug acts by stopping the yeast cells from making ergosterol, the main component of cell walls. It is absorbed orally with or without food and is widely distributed in body tissues. It is eliminated unchanged in the urine and therefore not indicated in patients with renal disease. For vaginal yeast infections, a single dose of 150 mg is recommended. It begins working as soon as the tablet is taken and continues to work for next several days. Most women begin to notice relief of symptoms within 24 hours. For some women, it may take three to four days to see any improvement. Almost 80% women reported relief after a single dose of fluconazole. The dosage may be repeated on medical advice.
Due to its renal and hepatic toxicity, it is contraindicated in patients with liver and kidney diseases. Other contraindications include pregnancy, breast-feeding, diabetics on oral hypoglycemic medications, cisapride, blood thinning medications, asthma medications etc. Patients under 18 and those with HIV are not given fluconazole.
Fluconazole should be taken for the entire length of time as prescribed by the doctor. The medicine may be stored at room temperature away from moisture and heat and definitely away from children. Liquid fluconazole may be stored in the refrigerator but not allowed to freeze. Throw away any leftover medication that is more than two weeks old.
The drug is generally well tolerated but occasionally may cause side effects. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence, headache, allergic skin reactions, seizures, fever, chills and flu-like symptoms and yellow skin. Abnormal liver function tests and severe hepatitis have been reported rarely. Moreover, the infection may still persist even though the symptoms have resolved. Fluconazole treats only the symptoms of vaginal yeast infection and thus works temporarily to relieve those symptoms. To prevent vaginal yeast infection recurrence, one must take the drug daily, which creates lifelong dependency.
Fluconazole and vaginal yeast infection, therefore, share an unreliable association. Even though vaginal yeast infections are known to be caused by Candida albicans, the etiological factors are more complex involving genetic traits, lifestyle, dietary pattern etc. The treatment would obviously, therefore, involve challenging all the causative factors. Only holistic therapy systems, which are more patient centered and less invasive, can accomplish this.