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Chronic Vaginal Yeast Infections Linked to Allergic Rhinitis

What the Study Showed
How It Was Done
Why It's Important

What the Study Showed
In a finding that helps to unlock the mystery as to why some women suffer from one vaginal yeast infection after another, Brazilian researchers report in the August 1998 issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology that many of these same women are also prone to perennial allergic rhinitis, a condition characterized by chronic nasal congestion.

Vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection) is caused by an overgrowth of the yeast, Candida albicans. Millions of women such as those in this group have repeated episodes. The condition is designated as "recurrent" if at least four episodes occur within 12 months.

How It Was Done
Researchers compared the incidence of allergic diseases in two groups of women over the course of 28 months. In the first group were 95 healthy women with normal immune systems; all had recurrent vaginal candidiasis and were referred to a private allergy practice. The second group consisted of 100 women who visited the same allergy practice; none suffered from recurrent vaginal candidiasis.

As part of the trial, participants underwent a complete physical examination and were asked about allergies they or family members experienced. They also were given a battery of allergy-related skin and inhalation tests, and were tested for the presence of C. albicans.

Why It's Important
Previous research has hinted at a link between nasal allergies and chronic or recurring vaginal candidiasis. The findings of the current study make the point in a more definitive way, concluding that the nasal allergies may in fact be a predisposing factor for the vaginal condition.

In contrast to the control group, women with recurrent vaginal candidiasis had a high relative incidence of skin tests positive to inhalant allergens and to C. albicans. Many (73%) also had family members with allergies. Interestingly, the association of vaginal symptoms was quite specific to allergic nasal symptoms; no particular link was seen between recurrent vaginal candidiasis and asthma, an ailment of the lungs and bronchial tubes.

What accounts for the association between nasal allergies and vaginal yeast infections remains unclear, but the link does suggest that women with the chronic form of vaginal candidiasis could benefit from an evaluation for allergies. Hopefully, future studies will illuminate preventable risk factors for recurrent candidiasis, putting control over the disease back into the hands of the countless women who suffer from this irritating condition.

Source: Moraes PSA. Recurrent vaginal candidiasis and allergic rhinitis: a common association. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1998;81:165-169.


Date Published: 01/23/2002
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