In 1999, researchers at the Mayo Clinic determined that 96% of sinus infections were due to fungus, thus antibiotics were not only useless, but they could contribute to the development of ongoing fungal infections. Another study in 1998 demonstrated that 71% of women with vaginal candida (candidiasis) had allergic rhinitis/sinus problems. Then a subsequent study done in 2012, found that women with allergic rhinitis (AR) and recurring vaginal candidiasis (RVC) had higher numbers of fungal Candida albicans and fungal diversity. Both of the studies that looked at the involvement of the sinuses indicated that recurring vaginal conditions could be a result of sensitivities to fungal Candida that were associated with the sinus infections.
Unfortunately, the majority of these two conditions are being treated with antibiotics due to a previous belief that all infections were bacterial. The researchers in the Mayo study point this out.
“Fungus allergy was thought to be involved in less than ten percent of cases,” says Dr. Sherris. “Our studies indicate that, in fact, fungus is likely the cause of nearly all of these problems. And it is not an allergic reaction, but an immune reaction.”
“Medications haven’t worked for chronic sinusitis because we didn’t know what the cause of the problem was,” says Dr. Ponikau. “Finally we are on the trail of a treatment that may actually work.”
The link with candida and vaginal infections doesn’t stop there, however. Another recent study done in 2011, showed that 92% of all vaginal candidiasis also had intestinal tract involvement.
Since Candida albicans is a normal inhabitant of the intestinal flora, it was an obvious place to look next. In the intestinal tract, Candida normally exists in its beneficial yeast form. Due to the effect of antibiotics on the bacterial flora and immune system, and sometimes directly on Candida, Candida becomes a fungal pathogen that escapes the intestinal tract and spreads throughout the body. Candida has a few different forms, with C. albicans being the most common. Once candida has established itself in the post-antibiotic terrain, it prevents certain beneficial bacteria from growing back and promotes other bacteria that are more friendly towards its survival.
“It can actually eat you up from inside,” says Jure Piskur, professor at Lund University.
With the advancement of evidenced medicine, more MDs are looking at abandoning the “one pill for everything” approach. The toll of unrestricted antibiotic dosing of the population has created a world-wide epidemic of antibacterial resistance. According to the World Health Organization, over 2 million die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections. This additional antibiotic-driven effect with candida may actually be causing a greater toll than anyone has ever considered.