What is a Yeast Infection?
“Yeast Infection” is a fungal infection that can affect the mouth, food pipe, genitals, skin, and in severe cases, the bloodstream. This infection is most commonly seen in women and babies. There are hundreds of fungi causing these infections; a few families to name are Candida Albicans, Candida Glabrata, Candida parapsilosis, Candida tropicalis, Candida Krusei Candida Auris. White patches in the mouth are a fungal manifestation known as Thrush. This infection in the food-pipe can make it hard for one to swallow. If this infection affects the genitals, it is most commonly in women, then clinically addressed as vaginal candidiasis. At least three out of four women experience this once in their lifetime. Such infections on the skin can cause excessive itching and rashes, and lastly, if the infection manifests in the bloodstream, it can be life-threatening. This is known as invasive candidiasis.
What causes Yeast Infection?
The fungus candida Albicans most commonly causes vaginal yeast infections. Yeast infections caused by other types of fungus can be difficult to treat and may need more aggressive therapies. The vagina has a natural culture of microbes like the candida and some bacteria. Candida normally lives on the skin, mouth, throat, stomach, and the vagina without any potential harm to the body; it can cause problems or infections if there is an overgrowth of their culture. Bacteria function to prevent the overgrowth of yeast. Sometimes the number of bacteria is reduced, which leads to an active overgrowth of the fungus.
Reasons for overgrowth of the fungus can be:
- Excessive use of antibiotics
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Weakened or inefficient Immune system
- Intake of oral contraceptives
- On-going hormone therapy
- Wearing tight undergarments
- Diaper rashes in children
Thrush or Oropharyngeal Yeast infection if most commonly seen in people with HIV/AIDS
How do you know you have a yeast infection?
In the case of a vaginal yeast infection, there will be extreme itching in and around the vagina, which is the most common symptom. Apart from itching, other manifestations include:
- Burning sensation while urination or intercourse
- Swelling and redness around the vulva
- Pain and soreness in the vaginal area.
- Vaginal Rashes
- Vaginal discharge that can be either watery or thick, white and odorless
- In cases of fungal infection in the mouth, there may be white patches on the inner cheeks, tongue, roof of the mouth, and there may be cotton-like feeling in the mouth; there is also loss of sensation of taste
- In the case of invasive candidiasis, there may be the presence of additional fever and chills.
Yeast can infect men too. The presentation of yeast infections in men include:
- Itching, burning, or redness around the penis
- Presence of a thick white substance on the skin of the penis
Risk Factors & Complications of a Yeast Infection:
- The use of broad-spectrum antibiotics can reduce the number of bacteria that prevent overgrowth of the fungus.
- Increased Estrogen levels can be due to regular consumption of birth control pills or if the woman is on estrogen hormone therapy.
- Underlying morbidities like Diabetes and Hypertension can make it easier for the fungus to grow uncontrollably.
- An immune system that has been severed or impaired due to corticosteroid therapy or diseases like cancer and AIDs.
- Oropharyngeal infection is common in those who wear dentures, have cancers of mouth and throat, and people with HIV/AIDs
- Chronic smokers
- Chronic ICU hospitalization
- Those are having indwelling tubes and catheters
- Kidney failure
Complications of Yeast Infection:
- Extensive redness and soreness leading to skin thinning or cracks
- Four or more episodes of reoccurrence of the infection in a year
- Complications in pregnancy
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Scarring of skin
Yeast Infection diagnosis and treatment:
Yeast Infection is diagnosed based on past history of such infections, a pelvic exam by the doctor, the presence of any vaginal secretions, and evaluating the vaginal smear for confirming the infection. The identification of the fungus is important as the treatment will be based on the same. Thus, the treatment is based on the type of fungus causing the infection and the fact that it is complicated or uncomplicated. Fungal infection of the mouth or the gut is assessed through an endoscopy. Invasive infections can be detected through blood culture tests. Other diagnostic measures include Fungal culture tests via skin scrapping, swab tests, blood and urine tests, and sputum culture.
An uncomplicated infection can be treated either by direct vaginal therapy or oral treatment. A short course of treatment is generally sufficient. Over-the-counter medications such as butoconazole (Gynazole-1), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), miconazole (Monistat 3), and terconazole (Terazol 3) are generally prescribed. Oral antifungals like fluconazole (Diflucan) can be used as a single dosage.
For a complicated infection, multiple oral combinations and long-term vaginal therapy are suggested. The vaginal therapy includes the application of a vaginal cream, ointment, tablet, or a suppository for around 7-14 days. Sometimes topical steroids along with antifungal medications can also relieve the symptoms and treat the infection.
Where to get online treatment for yeast infection?
Online treatment for yeast infection can be received from:
Ways to prevent Yeast Infection:
- Practicing good personal hygiene
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes
- Avoid scented sprays, bath products, and douches
- Eat natural yogurt with live cultures
- Reduce Stress
- Avoid frequent medications like antibiotics and corticosteroids
- Exercise regularly and have a proper sleep pattern
- Wear cotton and breathable undergarments
Yeast infection can be irritable and uncomfortable as it involves sensitive skin portions. It is advisable to address it as early as possible and take the right treatment as per the fungus manifested and its severity. It usually gets treated in a few months to a year. But if the infection lasts for longer or is recurrent, it shouldn’t be ignored, and medical assistance should be undertaken at the earliest. If it enters the bloodstream, it becomes difficult to control and manage the spread, thus worsening symptoms and affecting the vital organs. The earlier the issue is addressed, the lesser painful it becomes to manage and treat such infections. Unlike bacterial and viral infections, any fungal infection takes longer to resolve.