On The Shy Side
Last summer, I talked about some of the causes and treatment options for shy bladder syndrome (paruresis), a condition that is characterized by great difficulty urinating in the presence of other people, when under pressure or when traveling on trains and planes. Ability is normal when these conditions are not present, especially at home. It turns out that millions of Americans (7% of the population) find it difficult or even impossible to urinate in or near the presence of others, whether in a public restroom or even at a friend's house. In a subsequent conversation with Andrew L. Rubman, ND, he mentioned that yeast/candidias may play a role in shy bladder syndrome -- and that when the patient brings the yeast under control, it usually helps with the urination problem. Although no one knows exactly what causes shy bladder syndrome, yeast has been identified as the culprit in a surprisingly wide array of diseases, including allergies, chronic sinusitis, hives, digestive disorders, depression, fatigue, headache and bladder infections. When it comes to shy bladder syndrome, the problem appears to be a combination of yeast as a root cause, combined with psychological threshold. The underlying problem may be yeast, which creates difficulty with urination. The difficulty can then cause psychological pressures that turn into anxiety and shy bladder syndrome. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that anxiety and social pressure increase yeast levels, which then fuels shy bladder syndrome. To learn more about paruresis and yeast, I contacted Holly Lucille, ND, RN, founder of Healing from Within Healthcare in Los Angeles. She told me that psychosocial issues, a history of sexual abuse, biochemical imbalances and cultural variations each may play a role in shy bladder syndrome. As far as yeast is concerned, Dr. Lucille agrees that when yeast, which is normally present in small amounts, come to outnumber other beneficial flora, it can hook into and penetrate the mucous membranes of the gut and bladder, causing pain and pressure, which in turn creates difficulty in urination. If the process of urination can be improved by getting yeast under control, then the theory goes that it can reduce sensation and thus the anxiety of needing to go. Combating yeast is a complicated process that usually takes time. First and foremost, Dr. Lucille recommends that her patients improve their diet...
*Avoid sugar in all forms, including candy, cake, cookies, corn syrup, white flour, white rice, honey and excessive intake of fruits.
*Don't eat fruit with brown spots -- which may be a sign of spoilage.
*While the connection between specific yeast-containing foods is not confirmed, it is still good to avoid foods to which you may be sensitive or allergic. Possibilities include wheat, dairy, cheese, mushrooms, bread, coffee, tea, processed foods, soy sauce, vinegar, wine, beer and dried fruits. Each individual's tolerance levels vary, so you may have to experiment a bit to determine which foods and food groups cause problems for you and which you can safely eat. Use the classic food allergy strategy: Identify, avoid, reincorporate, monitor.
*Include more legumes and vegetables in your diet, including lentils, mung beans, green veggies, carrots, sprouts and beet tops, all of which are low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measurement that ranks foods based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels. Dr. Lucille also recommends liquid chlorophyll, alfalfa tablets and yogurt with active acidophilus cultures to help bring the balance of flora back to normal.
Other classic strategies for managing yeast include...
*Whenever possible, avoid taking medications such as antibiotics, birth control pills and steroids. These can help create an environment in your body that allows overgrowth of yeasts.
*Work with a naturopathic physician to develop a protocol of supplements that can help rebalance your flora. Since killing off yeast is a complicated process and requires vigilant monitoring by a trained professional, you don't want to self-prescribe supplements.
Because anxiety, social pressures and stress can exacerbate yeast overgrowth, take steps to promote your psychological and emotional well-being. A survey of people associated with the International Paruresis Association revealed that one-third of paruresis sufferers limit or avoid parties, sporting events or dating... and over half of them limit their job choices. The good news is that you can overcome these obstacles and lead a normal life. Don't suffer in silence.To learn more about shy bladder syndrome treatments, support groups and weekend workshops, visit the Web site of the International Paruresis Association at www.paruresis.org.