Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fluconazole and yeast

Today I am writing a bit about fluconazole -  an anti-fungal medication that comes in the form of small pink tablets. It is currently in short supply - so I was only able to get 18 days worth though I will likely be taking it for months.

Unfortunately I'm not feeling as well today as I was yesterday. I have a headache which really hurts when I cough. I think I've caught a bug from Mike. It is a very wet dark day - so although I did my weight training with bands I don't think I'll take the dog for a long walk. She doesn't like the wind and the rain.

Back to fluconazole - When I saw my specialist in Vancouver in September, he told me that during the summer the lab had found candida in my lungs - a yeast infection that might be at the root of my asthma. The lab had allowed the culture to grow for 12 weeks - enough time for the candida to show up. He said candida is in the air. We all breath it all the time and it doesn't bother most of us. But I am sensitive to it.

I think he also said it may have set up colonies in my lungs - maybe in the parts weakened by bronchiectasis. Antibiotics and steroids are known to encourage fungal infections and I have taken a lot of those.

We now know that our bodies live in symbiosis with our microbiome of other living creatures - bacterias, viruses, fungi. They don't take up much space but are almost everywhere in our body. The majority are in our large intestine helping with food digestion and our immune system. There are so many of them that they have a total of more DNA than we do.  Many of them help us. Some of them harm us. Some of them are idle bystanders.  Sometimes a harmelss one gets into the wrong place and becomes harmful. When one group gets wiped out, another group moves in. In other words the candida probably moved in when the good bacteria in my lungs were killed off by anti-biotics. Fluconazole is one of the medications that is designed to kill candida.

So - in September and October I took 8 weeks of fluconazole. Nothing seemed to happen at first but after a couple of weeks my breathing improved, I had more energy and coughed less. However, when I finished the eight weeks, I dropped back down again. So at my November visit, my specialist prescribed another regime of fluconazole to go along with my week-long prednisone burst.

Once again I looked it up on the internet. According to "Fluconazole is used for treating and preventing certain yeast and fungal infections. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor. Fluconazole is an azole antifungal. It kills sensitive fungi by interfering with the formation of the fungal cell membrane." This web item doesn't say much more - except to point out all the truly awful side-effects and drug interactions. Don't read it! My view is, that if a knowledgeable doctor prescribes something, you should just take it. If things seem to go sideways, tell your doctor and they'll find something more suitable.

I could not find much mainstream information on the relationship between asthma and candida on the internet. I did find a dubious site by someone called  Dr McComb.  He is not associated with a recognized research centre, he is opposed to the usual anti-fungals, and he sells his own drugs online. He suggests big changes to the diet. Only brown rice, meat (not pork), eggs, fresh fruits (not oranges), frozen fruit (not blueberries) and vegetables. I'm  giving him a miss. In fact even looking at his website goes against my normal guide for internet safety -  there is a lot of harmful misinformation out there.

So I'll take fluconazole to kill of the candida until my next appointment in 3 months - unless the lab samples I produced on Tuesday show something else.

This is Symbicort - easy to inhale - no spacer needed. Since I am on a role writing about all the pharmaceuticals I take, I think I'll write my next posts on Symbicort, Spiriva, Xolair, and Pulmicort.

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