What is Candidiasis?
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. There are over 20 species of Candidayeasts that can cause infection in humans, the most common of which is Candida albicans. Candida yeasts normally reside in the intestinal tract and can be found on mucous membranes and skin without causing infection; however, overgrowth of these organisms can cause symptoms to develop. Symptoms of candidiasis vary depending on the area of the body that is infected.
Candidiasis that develops in the mouth or throat is called “thrush” or oropharyngeal candidiasis. Candidiasis in the vagina is commonly referred to as a “yeast infection.” Invasive candidiasis occurs when Candida species enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.
Causes of Candidiasis
This may occur because of:
- Warm weather
- Tight clothing
- Poor hygiene
- Infrequent undergarment changes
- The use of antibiotics that kill harmless bacteria that keep Candida under control
- The use of corticosteroids or other medications that affect the immune system
- A weakened immune system as a result of diabetes, pregnancy, or another medical condition
- Incomplete drying of damp or wet skin
Symptoms of Candidiasis
Infection of the mouth (thrush) causes the following:
- Creamy, white, painful patches inside the mouth
- Cracking at the corners of the mouth (cheilitis)
- A red, painful, smooth tongue
- Patches in the esophagus cause pain during swallowing
- When the skin is infected, a burning rash develops. Some types of diaper rash are caused by Candida.
If the infection spreads to other parts of the body, it is more serious. It can cause
- A heart murmur
- Enlargement of the spleen
- Dangerously low blood pressure (shock),
- Decreased urine production.
- An infection of the retina and inner parts of the eye can cause blindness.
If the infection is severe, several organs may stop functioning, and death can occur.
Diagnosis of Candidiasis
Diagnostic tests for Candidiasis include the following:
- Mucocutaneous candidiasis – For a wet mount, scrapings or smears obtained from skin, nails, or oral or vaginal mucosa are examined under the microscope; a potassium hydroxide smear, Gram stain, or methylene blue is useful for direct demonstration of fungal cells
- Cutaneous candidiasis – Using a wet mount, scrapings or smears obtained from skin or nails can be examined under the microscope; potassium hydroxide smears are also useful
- Genitourinary candidiasis – A urinalysis should be performed; evidence of white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs), protein, and yeast cells is common; urine fungal cultures are useful
- Gastrointestinal candidiasis – Endoscopy with or without biopsy
Treatment of Candidiasis
- Candidiasis that occurs only on the skin or in the mouth or vagina can be treated with antifungal drugs (such as clotrimazole and nystatin) that are applied directly to the affected area. A doctor may also prescribe the antifungal drug fluconazole to be taken by mouth.
- For infections of the esophagus, doctors prescribe antifungal drugs (such as fluconazole, voriconazole, or posaconazole) to be taken by mouth. Rarely, antifungal drugs (such as anidulafungin, caspofungin, micafungin, or amphotericin B) must be given by vein (intravenously).
- Candidiasis that has spread throughout the body is usually treated with anidulafungin, caspofungin, or micafungin given intravenously or with fluconazole, which can be given intravenously or by mouth. Amphotericin B, voriconazole, and flucytosine are alternatives but are not commonly used.
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By : Natural Health News