Candidiasis Yeast Infection Facts
A yeast infection results from an overgrowth of yeast (a type of fungus) anywhere in the body. Candidiasis is by far the most common type of yeast infection. There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi live on all surfaces of our bodies. Under certain conditions, they can become so numerous they cause infections, particularly in warm and moist areas. Examples of such infections are vaginal yeast infections, thrush (infection of tissues of the oral cavity), skin, including diaper rash, beneath large breasts, and nailbed infections.
- Candida infections commonly occur in warm moist body areas, such as underarms. Usually your skin effectively blocks yeast, but any breakdown or cuts in the skin may allow this organism to penetrate.
- Typical affected areas in babies include the mouth and diaper areas.
- Vaginal yeast infection, which is the most common form of vaginitis is often referred to as vaginal Candidiasis.
- In adults, oral yeast infections become more common with increased age. Adults also can have yeast infections around dentures, in skin folds under the breast and lower abdomen, nailbeds, and beneath other skin folds. Most of these candida infections are superficial and clear up easily with treatment. Infections of the nailbeds often require prolonged therapy.
- Rarely, the yeast infection may spread throughout the body. In systemic candidal disease (in which the fungus enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body), up to 45% of people may die. Even common mouth and vaginal yeast infections can cause critical illness and can be more resistant to normal treatment.
- Yeast infections that return may be a sign of more serious diseases such as diabetes, leukemia, or AIDS.
Candidiasis Yeast Infection Causes
- In women, yeast infections are the second most common reason for vaginal burning, itching, and discharge. Yeast are found in the vagina of 20% to 50% of healthy women and can overgrow if the environment in the vagina changes. Antibiotic and steroid use is the most common reason for yeast overgrowth. However, pregnancy, menstruation, diabetes, and birth control pills also can contribute to getting a yeast infection. Yeast infections are more common after menopause
- In people who have a weakened immune system because of cancer treatments, steroids, or diseases such as AIDS, candida infections can occur throughout the entire body and can be life-threatening. The blood, brain, eye, kidney, and heart are most frequently affected, but Candida also can grow in the lungs, liver, and spleen. Candida is a leading cause of esophagitis (inflammation in the swallowing tube) in people with AIDS.
- Almost 15% of people with weakened immune systems develop a systemic illness caused by Candida. These infections enter into the bloodstream through breakdowns or cuts in the skin or mucous membranes. Candidal organisms may build up in an area because of frequent use of antibiotics, which kill the bacteria that normally keep them under control.
- Use of implanted devices and tubes that penetrate into the body like urinary catheters and IV ports/lines also provide access for the yeast to enter the body. IV drug users utilizing dirty needles may inject the yeast directly into their bloodstream or deep tissues.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/29/2016
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