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Infant Medications and Thrush

Keri Schouten
Wilmington MA USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 6, November-December 2006, p. 261

For three months, I struggled with thrush, and I tried all the normal solutions -- each with only temporary success. I treated it using a variety of herbal and other medications. I washed my clothes in vinegar and was careful not to re-use towels. Finally, I resorted to a very strict diet where I eliminated all sugar and white flour, along with fruit juice, certain fruits, vinegar, mushrooms, and fermented foods.

This strict diet, along with a continued course of prescription medication, finally seemed to help and my symptoms went away for three weeks. After three weeks of blissful nursing, the pain suddenly came back. I studied my diet in a panic, trying to find where I'd made a mistake, to no avail. Five more days went by, and the pain continued to get worse.

I started to think that perhaps my daughter's saliva was irritating my nipples since she had been teething pretty badly. In the past, I'd had internal thrush and the pain was terrible. This pain, however, was different -- it was a soreness coupled with a tingly "pins and needles" feeling that occurred for a few seconds here and there as I was nursing. It was annoying, but bearable, and I started to wonder if thrush was even the issue. I assumed it was because the pain would go away during treatment and return after I stopped treatment.

As I was thinking about starting topical treatments again, it occurred to me that if I could treat my nipples with the gentian violet (which is one thing I had been using) simply by putting it in Katie's mouth and then nursing, then anything I gave her would, in essence, treat my nipples. Because of her teething difficulties and obvious distress at night, I had been giving her a dose of pain medication before bed and then nursing her immediately after giving her the drug. I never considered that giving her the pain medication, which was in a sugar suspension, would then effectively coat my nipples in a sugary syrup and feed the yeast.

I felt like a light bulb had gone off in my head. Eureka! Perhaps my entire problem was that I was inadvertently treating my nipples with sugar, ruining all of the effort I'd put into treating the thrush. I stopped giving my daughter the medicine in the sugar suspension and, without any other changes, within 48 hours the pain in my nipples lessened and then went away.

I think it is a grave disservice to not warn women of the dangers of nursing following giving a baby any kind of sugar suspension drug, especially if they are prone to thrush. It took months for me to realize what the problem was. I did not give Katie medicine in a sugar suspension steadily, so there were periods where I thought my treatments were working, when in fact it was the absence of sugar that mattered.

Now, a week later, I'm eating whatever I want, am not on any prescription medication, am not treating my nipples in any way, and the pain has not returned!

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