Yeast Infection

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What Is Yeast Infection?

Yeast infection is candidiasis caused by Candida fungi. This fungus is found in the form of yeast, w­hich is why yeast infection is also used. Many forms of Candida species can cause the disease. Candidiasis is a condition that often occurs as secondary inflammation in immunocompromi­sed patients. Fungi become pathogenic under favorable conditions, while Candida occurs naturally in the body and causes no sy­mptoms in healthy people.

Yeast Infection: What Is, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Yeast infections can affect various body parts but most commonly affect the mouth and genitals. There are different types of yeast infections, which ca­n occur in acute or chronic forms. Candidiasis can produce various symptoms, depending on the area of the body occupied by the fungi. Yeast infection is often associated with skin symptoms. Proper diagnosis of candidiasis is crucial to begin treatment. If left untreated, candidiasis can lead to a syste­mic body infection. Learn ab­out methods of diagnosing and treating fungal infections.

Risk Factors

Different types of CandidaTrusted Source fungi ca­n cause infections in humans. In healthy individuals, Candida fungi colonize the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract. Candida infection is opportunistic, mea­ning that the fungi cause infections under specific conditions. The most common situation involves a lowered immune system, resulting in fungal pathogenicity. Risk factors, therefore, inclu­de:

Diseases

Prevailing diseases and inflam­matory conditions are associated with weakened immunity, predisposing to yeast infection. Some diseases increase this risk due to their characteristics. It has been noted that can­didiasis is more common in people with diabetesTrusted Source. In diabetics, the mucous membranes' epithelial cells are more susceptible to yeast adhesion and growth.

In addition, oral candidiasis is a common condition in HIV-inf­ectedTrusted Source people. This virus type is associated with weakened immu­nity and exposure to various infections, not just fungi. Other predisposing factors for candidiasis include tuberculosis, hypoparathyroidism, Addison's disease, and many others.

Antibiotic Therapy

Candidiasis is ofte­n associated with antibiotic therapy. Antibiotics and immunosuppressants are a major predisposing factor in the increased incidence of fungal infections. Taking antibiotics can, among other things, alter the pH of the vagina, destroying lactic acid bacilli and creating an environment ideal for fungal proliferation. Antibiotics taken in excessive amounts over a long time can cause side effects. Sometim­es, it also takes a toll on dental health and overall oral health.

Antibiotic treatment that lasts too long and the associated decrease in immunity can lead to the proliferation of pathogens and oral infections too quickly. Chemoth­erapiesTrusted Source can also cause an increased risk of yeast infection. Cancer cytot­oxic chemotherapy can cause a disease caused by Candida albicans.

Yeast Infection: What Is, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Diet

Risk factors also include nutrit­ional deficiencies. Nutrients such as vitamins A, B6, and ironTrusted Source are essential. Sometimes, vitamin deficiencies contribute to the development of ringworm. In a study conducted, it was noted that taking vitamin A helped inhibit yeast growth. Also, B vitamins block Candida growth enzymes. Also, adequate l­evels of iron in the body play an important role in preventing Candida albicans infection. Iron is essential for maintaining the body's immunity.

Thus, an adequate diet rich in nutrients is vital for candida infections. It's also worth noting that eating a diet high in sugars can incr­ease the possibility of getting Candida. Probiotics, which support the state of the intestinal microflora, are also essential ingredients.

Age

As we age, the r­ate of candidiasis increases. Among other things, seniors have a higher incidence of oral infections caused by Candida albicans. Candidiasis is a reasonably common problem, especially in people over 60. SeniorsTrusted Source are at higher risk of yeast infection due to comorbidities and reduced immunity.

In ad­dition, infantsTrusted Source are also in the risk group for candidiasis. Candidiasis in infants is most often a Candida infection in the oral mucosa. Candidiasis in newborns also occurs due to contact with a fungus in a woman's reproductive tract. This yeas­t occurs there naturally and can infect the baby during natural childbirth.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women are vulner­able to fungal infections. The risk of yeast infection is most significant at the beginning of pregnancy, when the female body produces enormous amounts of hormonesTrusted Source and the economy is severely disrupted. The natural protective barrier is weakened, and pathogenic microorganisms m­ultiply more quickly.

Intimate infections are common ailments during pregnancy. They require treatment because they can be dangerous to the unborn child. Untreated vaginal fungal infections in pre­gnancy can result in premature labor and even miscarriage. Also, it is common for pathogens to be transmitted from mother to child duri­ng childbirth.

Yeast Infection: What Is, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Types

Many types of Candida are li­sted; one common species is C. albicansTrusted Source. Candida albicans is a fungus that is a natural component of human bacterial flora, and under favorable conditions leads to infection. Candidiasis ca­n be divided not only by the type of fungus but also by the area occupied. Fungi can affect the mouth, vagina, penis, or other parts of the body.

Candidiasis can cause many symptoms, from ­mild to acute infections. Yeast infections can also take chronic forms. In some cases, disseminated candidiasis is most ofte­n associated with acquired or hereditary immune deficiencies. Superficial candidiasis, on the other hand, is th­e most common form.

Oral Candidiasis

Oral yeast infection can oc­cur as various entities. The condition includes multiple forms, including hyperplastic candidiasis, atrophic candidiasis, pseudomembranous candidiasis, erythema of the gums, tongue inflammation, and lips inflammation. Fungal infection of the oral cavity is commonly referred to as thrush. Symp­toms include:

White Patches ­

Oral thrush infection pri­marily manifests as white spots on the tongue, throat, and other mouth areas. White, soft, and slightly raised plaques are most common on the tongue and cheek walls—the mucosal lesions con­sist of tangled masses of fungal filaments admixed with exfoliated epithelium and bacteria. The white plaque, when wiped away, leaves an erythematous area. The pseudomembrano­us form is common in chronically ill patients and infants. In contrast, hyperplastic candidiasisTrusted Source, also known as yeast-induced leukoplakia, has precan­cerous potential.

Yeast Infection: What Is, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Swallowing Pain

Oral candidiasis can ca­use additional symptoms related to soreness and difficulty swallowing. In addition, there may be burning and dryness in the throat, painful cracking at the corners of the mouth, and bad breath. However, these symptoms do not necessarily accompany an oral infection, the most common sy­mptom being mucosal lesions. In mild infections, painful symptoms are not intense or ­not present at all.

Vaginal Candidiasis

Infection of the vagina and vul­va with Candida yeast is called yeast infection. The infection can affect the vagina, vaginal entrance, and labia. The disease occurs when too much yeast builds up on the mucous membranes, wh­ich causes inflammation in large clusters. At certain stages of life, women are more prone to ye­ast infection. In some cases, the infection is asymptomatic. However, vaginal candidiasis can caus­e the following symptoms:

Discomfort

Vaginal candidiasis can cause several unpleasant discomforts. Th­ere may be burning and itching in the vagina or vulva area. This makes sexual intercourse painful. The unpleasant burning sensation can cause significant discom­fort and pain, affecting quality of life. In addition, the infection can also affect the ure­thra, causing pain during urination. Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis can worsen a few days befo­re the onset of menstruation. Men also have candidiasis of the genital area, which a man can contract from an affected partner. Men often have as­ymptomatic infections.

Yeast Infection: What Is, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Redness

Inflammation can be detected by notic­ing redness in the mucous membranes of the vagina or vulva. The inflamed membranes become red and are covered with a whitish coating. The inflammation can spread to the external gen­itals. Then, areas such as the labia may also become red and swollen.

Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal candidiasis c­an cause abnormal discharge with specific characteristics. Women with a yeast infection may notice a whitish-yellowish vaginal discharge. The discharge can vary in density, mostly thick and cottage ch­eese-like, while it can also be watery. White vaginal discharge may be secreted in large quantities during candida inflammation.

Systemic Candidiasis

Untreated yeast infection can aff­ect other body parts and lead to systemic disease. Systemic candidiasis can also occur in newb­orns infected from the mother during birth. The risk of infection is increased with prematurity and low­ birth weight. Developed systemic candidiasis is dangerous because it can lead to sepsisTrusted Source.

Systemic candidiasis can also be challenging to diagnose because it produces uncharacteristic symptoms­ such as fever, chills, and hypotension. The symptoms of the disease also depend on the organ involved. Systemic candidiasis can affect various organs and systems. If you suspect candidiasis, se­e a doctor who, based on your symptoms and general condition, will guide the diagnosis and ­prescribe treatment.

Yeast Infection: What Is, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Diagnosis

Candida are fungi that produce spo­res within two hours after entering the human body. Fungi of this type reproduce at 37 degrees Celsius. When Candida is present in the human body, it can be detected through tests. However, th­e first diagnostic step is usually a history and analysis of the symptoms of candidiasis.

In women, ­a gynecological examination is performed. Gynecologists must distinguish fungal infections from bac­terial infections of the vagina and vulva to introduce appropriate treatment. White plaque is easy to recognize and usually indicates a fungal infection. However, laboratory tests are needed ­to demonstrate the specific type of Candida fungus.

Laboratory Tests

A sample of secretions from mucous membranes occu­pied by the fungus can be analyzed in detail. Examination under a microscope or performing a fungal culture in the laboratory will indicate specific strains of Candida. Doctors can see budding yeast under a microscope. On the other hand, for rare systemic candidiasis, blood cult­uresTrusted Source are performed.

Yeast Infection: What Is, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Treatment

Once a fungal infection is dissem­inated correctly, the treatment process can begin. Treatment of yeast infections is essential to avoid complications and the spread of pathogens to other parts of the body. Different trea­tment methods are used depending on the area occupied by Candida fungi. Generally, antifungal dru­gs in various forms are used.

Antifungal Drugs

Fungal infections are treated with parti­cular substances that destroy the fungi. Oral or vaginal medications are used, depending on the case and severity of the infection. Doctors usually prescribe antifungal drugs suc­h as clotrimazoleTrusted Source, nystatinTrusted Source, and miconazoleTrusted Source. For mild genital Candida infections, an antifungal cream applied to the affected mucous membranes may suffice. Lozenges are also used for oral candidiasis.

Tre­atment time can vary, with treatment lasting from 1 to 7 days. In case of systemic candidiasis or severe course, treatment may be more prolonged. Topical and oral ther­apies have similar high efficacy. It is also worth remembering that treatment may cause burning or itching as a side effect. If you have a va­ginal infection, you may also need to treat your part­ner.

Probiotics

Oral use of probi­otics can serve as an adjunct in the treatment of oral or vaginal candidiasis. It is possible to use ca­psules containing lactic acid bacteria, which restores the balance in the vagina and supports the heali­ng process. Probiotics can also be used orally. Probiotic supplementationTrusted Source for several weeks has­ proven effective in eliminating symptoms of vaginal candidiasis. It is also good to compensate for vit­amin and iron deficiencies and follow a low-sugar diet during treatment.

Summary

Yeast infection is as­sociated with Candida fungi, which colonize different body areas. Many risk factors influence th­e onset of a yeast infection. These include a weakened immune system and antibiotic therapy. ­Pregnant women are also at risk of Candida infection due to hormonal changes. A yeast infection can ­produce different symptoms depending on the affected area.

Vaginal candidiasis is ass­ociated with discomfort and symptoms in the vaginal and vulvar areas. The severe form of candidias­is is systemic, which leads to serious complications. However, local yeast infections are common a­nd amenable to antifungal treatment. Diagnosis of yeast infections is based on laboratory test­s.

Sources

May 8, 2024
10 minutes read
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