Studies find about a 50 percent error rate in self-diagnosis of yeast infections. Thus, if you think that you have a yeast infection, there's a one in two chance you're wrong. But the medicines are harmless and the cost of a trial course is undoubtedly cheaper than a doctor visit. If your symptoms are strongly suggestive of a yeast infection, it's probably worth trying one of the over-the-counter medicines. If symptoms persist for more than 48 hours after starting the medicine, however, or if they return promptly, see your health care provider.
Side effects of these medications are minimal but may include allergic reaction (shortness of breath, closing of the throat, swelling of the lips, face, or tongue or hives) in rare cases, in which you should stop using them and seek emergency medical treatment. More common side effects are burning, itching, irritation of the skin and an increased need to urinate.
Also, keep in mind that antifungal medications may damage a condom or diaphragm, rendering both ineffective against pregnancy and condoms ineffective against sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, you can use a sanitary napkin or pad while using these medications, but do not use a tampon.
If you see a health care professional, he or she may prescribe a single dose of oral fluconazole (Diflucan) or a generic equivalent, although this treatment is not recommended during pregnancy. Also, do not take fluconazole if you are taking cisapride (Propulsid) because this drug combination could cause serious, even fatal, heart problems. In rare cases, fluconazole has also caused severe skin rash, sometimes resulting in death. Again, notify your health care professional immediately if you develop a rash while taking fluconazole. Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur.
Notify your healthcare professional if you are taking the prescription blood thinning medicine warfarin - there have been reported drug interactions between this anticoagulant medication and topical miconazole nitrate products (such as Monistat 7) and oral fluconazole (Diflucan). Symptoms include excessive bleeding and bruising.
If you don't treat a yeast infection, it may go away by itself and soaking in plain water can help. But you also may develop a more severe pelvic infection. In a woman who does not have adequate immune system function (a woman with HIV/AIDS, for example), the yeast infection could enter the bloodstream and cause an aggressive infection involving multiple organ systems in the body, although it is uncommon. Immediate hospitalization and treatment with intravenous medications would then be necessary.