Yeast infections and type 2 diabetes
For those with diabetes, the high sugar levels make them prone to yeast infections. Thrush is the most common form of yeast infection which thrives in warm and damp parts of the body, most commonly the male and female genital organs, mouth, underarms, groin and some areas of the skin. Those with dry mouth and high levels of sugar in the saliva also invite thrush.
What causes yeast infections?
Thrush or yeast infections are caused by high blood sugar levels and a compromised immune system, which is common in diabetics. Skin irritations are also likely to promote infections. If you smoke, the chances of oral thrush are increased and the use of oral contraceptives can trigger vaginal thrush.
How to recognize a yeast infection?
Vaginal thrush can manifest as irritation and soreness and severe itching around the vagina accompanied by a white curd-like appearance around the skin and white vaginal discharge. Pain during sexual intercourse is likely as the vulva reddens and feels sore. This is an infectious condition.
Oral thrush or candidiasis starts off with a bitter taste in the mouth, redness and bleeding, creamy white patches inside the mouth on the cheeks, tongue and roof of the mouth. The throat may be painful and cracks develop at the corners of the lips making it even worse.
In men, thrush shows up as redness and swelling of the penis head, itching around its tip and a discharge under the foreskin accompanied by a nasty smell. They experience pain during urination and can develop a white curd-like look on the skin. Sex is painful.
As mentioned earlier, skin infections can also develop in the arm pits, which are warm and moist and in the groin especially in those who tend to sweat a lot and do not follow proper hygiene.
While thrush / yeast infections are quite common, for diabetics it is a big problem. Since the high sugar levels place them in constant danger of developing a yeast infection, they must make sure they control their blood sugar levels. Although occasional infections may not be serious, regular yeast infections, especially left untreated can be a real problem as it can be passed on to others.
Can yeast infections be treated?
Topical anti-fungal creams are the first choice followed by oral prescription medication.
Can you prevent yeast infections?
The best thing that diabetics can do is control their blood sugar levels to minimize the frequency and severity of these infections. Other things to do are avoiding very tight clothes, especially underwear, maintaining proper hygiene by washing and keeping the genital areas dry and as far as possible, using mildly scented soaps and shampoos.
Oral yeast infections can be avoided by good dental hygiene, brushing your teeth twice a day and rinsing your mouth after every meal, flossing to remove food particles, using an oral rinse and getting regular dental health checks. If you wear dentures, make sure they’re clean.
Women with type 2 diabetes and yeast infections
Women with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop yeast infections as their sugar levels are higher. Yeast organisms are a part and parcel of a woman’s flora but when there is an increased growth of these, it becomes a problem. Since high sugar levels also show up in the mucus of the vagina and vulva, this invites thrush.
The thing with diabetes is this: it is all about sugar level control as poorly controlled blood sugar can result in diabetes complications, that include a reduced ability to fight infections. This applies to yeast infections, which, when they appear, can take a long time to heal.
Related: Foot care in diabetes
Day 25 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge
Y is for Yeast Infections and Type 2 diabetes
in the Living with Type 2 diabetes series