Healthy Living

What is a Yeast Infection?

What is a Yeast Infection?

Candidiasis is a type of fungal infection resulting from overgrowth of the yeast genus, Candida. The most predominant species in this genus is Candida albicans. The yeast survives in different parts of our body, including the skin, genitals, throat, and mouth. Growth of these organisms commonly occur in warm and moist areas of the body, like the underarms. In some cases, growth of candida may result in uncomfortable situations. Candidiasis is categorized into different types based on the location of growth.

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Oral candidiasis refers to the growth of the yeast in mouth or throat. It is known as thrush, or oropharyngeal candidiasis. In some cases, infection occurs in the genital areas and is referred to as yeast infection, or vulvovaginal yeast infection. Infection of the yeast in the blood is known as candidemia, or invasive candidiasis. Symptoms and treatment of this infection often depends on the location of infection.

Oral candidiasis is most commonly seen in elderly people, people undergoing chemotherapy, infants, and people with a weak immune system. Those who are on steroid medications and those who have diabetes also have an increased risk of developing oral candidiasis.

 Some of the common symptoms of oral candidiasis include:

  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Whitish spots on tongue and mouth
  • Reddishness in the mouth
  • Cracking of lips, especially at the corners

When left untreated, oral infection may enter blood and result in more risky conditions, like candidemia. Antifungal medications are normally recommended for controlling the infections. Vulvovaginal yeast infections are more common among women when compared to men.

Symptoms of vulvovaginal yeast infections include:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Reddishness in the vaginal area
  • Soreness in vagina
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

Yeast infection in men is characterized by reddish rashes on penis and itching on the tip of penis. Treatment of yeast infection in the genitals is very important to prevent the spread of yeast to sexual partners.

In candidemia the infection spreads to different parts of the body through blood. It may spread by using equipment contaminated by yeast and is commonly seen in people who have a weak immune system. Symptoms of this infection depends on the part of the body affected by infection. In most of the cases fever and chills may continue even after taking a course of antibiotics. The infection is common in people who are in intensive care unit of a hospital or have a central line. Invasive candidiasis requires prompt medical attention and treatment. The most common line of treatment for this is antifungal medicine given through IV.