What is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is caused by a specific strain of yeast known as Candida. Although a small amount of yeast is found in the body, a yeast infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of Candida. Most yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans. A yeast infection is a type of fungal infection that affects different areas of the body. Areas affected include the skin, mouth, genitals, throat and blood.
A yeast infection of the skin is often found in skin folds and warm, most areas. This type of yeast infection can cause irritation, itching, inflammation and odor. A yeast infection of the skin oftentimes presents itself as an irritated rash. The rash will appear red and have scalloped edges. The rash may be itchy or painful. Many times, parents think their infant has a diaper rash, when in fact the child has a yeast infection.
A yeast infection of the mouth or throat is called oral candidiasis, or thrush. White patches appear on the mouth, lips or elsewhere in the mouth. These patches may look like small milk curds. When the white patch is wiped away, bleeding may occur. Those suffering with thrush may have pain when eating. Thrush is very common in infants because of the changes in hormones experience right after birth.
Invasive candidiasis occurs when Candida enters the blood stream. Patients may experience an atypical fever that does not respond to antibiotic treatment. If the infection spreads to the organs, it can cause serious problems. If the problem is not treated quickly, patients may experience organ failure. Low birth weight infants, patients in intensive care units and those who have a central venous catheter are at a high risk of developing invasive candidiasis. Finally, HIV/AIDS patients often suffer with chronic yeast infections due to a compromised immune system.
The most common type of yeast infection is a vaginal yeast infection. A vaginal yeast infection results in irritation to the vagina and vaginal area and intense itching. Vaginal discharge may be grayish white and have the consistency of cottage cheese. Women may experience burning while urinating due to the irritation of the vaginal area.
Causes of Yeast Infections
There are numerous causes for a Candida overgrowth. Most yeast infections occur after patients take an antibiotic. This is because the antibiotics not only destroys bad bacteria, but also destroys the good lactobacillus bacteria. These bacteria produces acid making the body inhospitable for an overgrowth of yeast. Douching along with irritation can also cause a yeast infection.
Pregnancy is another cause for yeast infections. When women are pregnant, their hormones change. Pregnant women have an increased amount of estrogen in their body, which can alter the body’s natural pH levels. During this time, Candida can grow out of control. Additionally, women on an estrogen hormone therapy routine or a birth control pill that contains high doses of estrogen are more prone to yeast infections.
Other medical conditions that can contribute to chronic yeast infections. Uncontrolled diabetes and an impaired immune system can disrupt the good bacteria in the body. Patients using corticosteroids are prone to chronic yeast infections. Finally, yeast infections can be transferred sexually.
Patients who suffer with four or more yeast infections each year are often diagnosed with chronic or recurrent yeast infection. There are many causes for recurrent infections, including uncontrolled diabetes, a compromised immune system and hormonal imbalances.
Are you suffering from chronic yeast infections. Please call us at (571)529-6699 and set up an appointment with our integrative physician.
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