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Abby's Magazine - January/ February 2015 | Page allergic reaction, but the most common food allergy is sensitivity to peanuts, and sometimes other nuts like pecans and walnuts. Other food allergies include eggs (usually to the proteins in egg whites); cow, goat, and sheep milk or dairy products; soy; wheat; and shellfish. Symptoms of food allergies include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hives, and itching. Symptoms can be life threatening when the tongue swells or breathing becomes difficult. Early research shows that probiotics alleviate food allergies, but conclusive evidence isn't available yet. Tackling Urogenital Infections More than 75 percent of women have less-than-optimal vaginal health, and a third of the 75 percent test positive for bacterial vaginosis, an infection caused by an imbalance in vaginal bacteria. This bacterial imbalance increases risks for urinary tract infections (UTIs), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pre-term labor. When they have a vaginal problem, many women self medicate using over-the-counter yeast infection treatments. Unfortunately, these treatments may not be effective and can even be counterproductive, actually increasing the colonization of harmful bacteria. Research has found that probiotics help in treating or preventing many infections of the urinary tract and genitals (urogenital). In the following sections, I look at three common urogenital problems: bacterial vaginosis, UTIs, and yeast infections. Battling Bacterial Vaginosis Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginal infections (not to be confused with yeast infections). Symptoms include an off-white vaginal discharge, often accompanied by an unpleasant smell. Treating BV with antibiotics helps only 40 percent of women, but results are better when probiotics are added to the treatment. Cigarette smoking, use of IUDs, frequent douches, and multiple sex partners increase the incidence of BV. Multiple research reports show the benefits of using L. acidophilus to treat BV; in many of these studies, the probiotic was administered via vaginal suppositories. A smaller number of studies found that eating yogurt enriched with L. acidophilus may be beneficial, but results weren't definitive. Squelching urinary tract infections UTIs are caused by a bacterial infection anywhere in the urinary tract. Symptoms include frequent need to urinate, pain during urination, and sometimes cloudy urine. Women are more prone to UTIs than men, with 50 percent developing the infection during their lifetime, and half of those women have recurrent problems. In addition to being female, having frequent intercourse and using catheters increase the risk of UTIs. The most common organism causing UTIs is the E. coli bacterium. The usual treatment is a short round of antibiotics. Research shows that women who consume fermented milk products containing probiotics (such as yogurt and kefir, a fermented milk drink) have a lower incidence of UTIs. A recent U.S. study showed that recurrent UTIs were markedly reduced in women who used vaginal suppositories containing probiotics. Tamping Down Yeast Infections Most women — about 3 in 4 — will have a yeast infection at least once in their lives. These fungal infections are typically caused by Candida albicans. Symptoms of a yeast infection include a whitish discharge, vaginal itching, and soreness. Yeast infections often occur after antibiotic treatment, but can also occur after steroid use, while using birth control pills, and with frequent douching. Treatment typically consists of using an antifungal medication like miconazole (sold under the brand names Aloe Vesta, Baza, and Cruex Prescription Strength) or clotrimazole (Lotrimin and Gyne-Lotrimin, Desenex, and so on) as a topical cream or orally. L. acidophilis, L. rhamnosus, and L. fermentum have been shown to prevent and treat yeast infections. Many doctors are beginning to recommend that patients take a probiotic along with antibiotic prescriptions, particularly for women who have a history of yeast infections. Promoting Oral Health with Probiotics In spite of preventive oral care such as brushing, flossing, antiseptic rinsing, and frequent dental appointments, oral diseases are on the rise. Eighty Abby's Magazine - January/ February 2015 | Page 47 Abby's Magazine - January/ February 2015 | Page 35

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