Health Myths That Keep Us From Health: UTIs, Yeast Infections, STDs, TSS

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Recently a friend told me her back was hurting and she couldn’t get comfortable.  Along with that, she said she just wasn’t feeling that well.  She told another friend who suggested that she see a chiropractor that happened to be very helpful to her when she hurt her back.   STOP!!  When asking her about her symptoms, I found that her back pain was in her flank area (mid or side back over the kidneys) and with a history of bladder infections, it sounded to me like it had evolved into a kidney infection.  I strongly recommended that she see her health care professional (HCP), which she did.  It was a kidney infection.  The doctor found blood in her urine that she couldn’t see and diagnosed her.  The kidney infection was in its early stages, but none-the-less it took her several days after antibiotics were started to begin to feel better.  The reason I am starting with this story is to illustrate that with our health, even though some conclusions seem logical, if one doesn’t have all the facts, care may be delayed and the outcome may not be good or the treatment appropriate.   

One of the most aggravating aspects of health for me is when people share commonly held beliefs that are not true or only partially true.  I always assume they mean well, but when others believe them it could lead to some delays in really doing the right thing for their well being or worse yet, could lead to serious illness.  That is why I am writing about myths that could harm us.  I will start with bladder infections and will also write about yeast infections, older women and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and TSS (toxic shock syndrome).  

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and cranberry juice for prevention:  The myth is believing that cranberry juice ALONE can prevent UTIs.  Many experts include cranberry juice as a dietary way to help prevent UTIs.  However, staying hydrated with water is an excellent way prevent to UTIs.  There are many other things that can be done too, depending on the cause and the health of the person.  Below is a link to the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus health information on urinary tract infections.  There you can find thorough and easy to read information about UTIs, lifestyle changes to prevent recurrence. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000521.htm

Vaginal itching is not always a yeast infection:  I truly thought it was a great success for women when yeast infection medications went over-the-counter, rather then have them only available by prescription.  It showed that the FDA, along with the physicians that treat us mostly believed that we are familiar enough with our bodies to know when we had a yeast infection and could easily treat ourselves.  However, for those of you (and me in my past) who diagnose and treat yourselves, not all vaginal itching is a yeast infection.  In other words, bacteria, as well as yeast can cause vaginitis, a vaginal infection.   Even if you are one of those women who are prone to having yeast infections and treating yourself successfully with OTC medication, if it doesn’t go away on the first round of treatment see your HCP to determine what is actually causing the problem.  There is some information about yeast vaginitis on MedicineNet, com, which is part of WebMD that you might find helpful: http://www.medicinenet.com/yeast_vaginitis/article.htm

Sexually Transmitted Diseases only happens to promiscuous young adults:  NO, NO, NO!!  There is a medically reviewed article on MSN titled, Even Grandmas Get STDs.  The article states that women over the age of 50 still may “rock at night”.  I can tell you that most of my older than 50 friends certainly do!!  The issue comes in when they don’t consider the need to use condoms if the romantic interlude with a new partner progresses beyond just eye gazing and handholding.  It is suggested that a lot of the education about HIV and STDs target our youth and not older adults.  Also, with some women, their younger taboos make them uncomfortable to ask their partner about their health history.   That and the physical changes of aging, makes older women more susceptible to getting STDS.  Check out the MSN article, as it provides some helpful information and guidance on prevention.  You may want to share it with grandma!
http://health.msn.com/womens-health/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=10017...

Menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome only happens with certain kinds of tampons:  WRONG!!  TSS can occur with any kind of vaginally inserted menstrual protection product.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with TSS, it is a rare and serious disease that involves fever, shock and problems with the function of several body organs. Although the earliest cases of TSS involved women who were using tampons during their periods (menstruation), today less than half of current cases are associated with such events. Toxic shock syndrome can also occur with skin infections, burns, and after surgery. The condition can also affect children, postmenopausal women, and men.   It is critically important to know the signs and symptoms of TSS, if you use any vaginally inserted menstrual product, such as tampons or menstrual cups.   All are labeled with information about TSS when you buy them.  For a good reason!  The part of this that truly is dangerous is when someone believes that only tampons made of a certain material can cause TSS.  They may then ignore the symptoms if they have a false sense of safety.   The symptoms are flu-like.  If someone suspects that they have TSS, remove whatever product they are using vaginally and see their HCP immediately.  Let them know they are menstruating.  Since it is so rare, many HCPs have never seen a case of TSS and may not suspect it immediately thus delaying treatment.   

Just so you know, I strongly support a woman's choice to use whatever menstrual product she wants to use.  The point I am making is that no mater whether it is an all cotton tampon or a menstrual cup, they all pose a risk of TSS.  More information about TSS can be found at: http://www.toxicshock.com/  or at the FDA site: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/PatientAlerts/...

 

examroomhero

Credit Image: HCHMD on Flickr

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