Straight, No Chaser: Yeast Infections, Thrush and Other Candida Infections
You may call them yeast infections, but the clinical name is Candidiasis. Candida is a group of yeasts that cause infections in humans. Here are some answers to common questions and concerns.
1. Why do I get Candida?
Candida is a normal resident of your skin and other surfaces within your body, such as the membranes lining your mouth, nose, eyelids, respiratory, intestinal and genital surfaces. Under normal circumstances Candida doesn’t cause infection because your healthy and well-functioning immune system keeps it under control.
2. So why do I get Candida infections?
These infections tend to represent what is called an overgrowth syndrome. Some condition causes a disruption in the normal balance of organisms on your membranes, allowing a disproportionate growth of Candida to cause symptoms.
3. What are examples of causes of these overgrowth syndromes?
One cause is a disruption in the balance of organisms that reside in or on you. When you take certain antibiotics, they may knock out other organisms that balance out yeast or alter your bodily environment such that yeast are more likely to proliferate.
Another cause is related to your immune system’s ability to perform adequately. If you have diabetes, take steroids for a prolonged period of time or otherwise have a compromised immune system (e.g., HIV), you are more likely to see an overgrowth of Candida with the symptoms it causes.
5. What is thrush?
Thrush is the common name for oropharyngeal Candida infections (i.e., those occurring in the mouth). They are typically accompanied by white patches. In some instances, thrush can spread to your “food pipe” (your esophagus). This is called Candida esophagitis, and symptoms may include difficulty and/or painful swallowing.
6. How do you know if you have a vaginal yeast infection?
The symptoms of yeast infections typically involve pain, itching and the presence of a discharge that resembles cottage cheese.
7. Are there other types of common yeast infections?
- In those with compromised immune systems, the bloodstream can become infected, and Candida can travel throughout the body. This can be life-threatening.
- Candida can also infect the skin. These infections are accompanied by rashes and itching.
- Candida can cause infections of the foreskin in uncircumcised men. This is called balanitis.
- Candida can also be a cause of diaper rashes, jock itch, athletes foot, eye infections and other infections throughout the body.
8. How are yeast infections treated?
Fortunately, most infections in most people are successfully treated with antifungal medication. The real danger exists in those with compromised immune systems.
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