Yeast Infection Treatment
Yeast Infections (sometimes referred to as Candidiasis) are an extremely common condition that can cause pain, itching, and discomfort in a large percentage of population. Although this issue occurs in about 75% of all females at some point in their lives, it also can occur in a much smaller percentage of males.
What is Candida Albicans?
The yeast which is the causes fungal infections is called Candida Albicans. Candida lives in the gut of 80% – 90% of all human beings, but reoccurring overgrowth only occurs in about 5%. It can cause an opportunistic infection that may surface under favorable conditions or when a patient is immune compromised. In most cases, the infection is superficial and delegated to local areas like the throat, bladder, or vagina. In rare instances, candidial infections can enter the blood stream and cause systemic infection due to a poorly functioning immune system. Systemic candidal infections are extremely serious in immunocompromised patients and can be life threatening. This dangerous systemic condition is sometimes referred to as Fungemia.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
The Candida Albicans fungus can overgrow in the vagina and cause vaginitis. Signs of candidal overgrowth are irritation, itching, burning, and pain during urination or intercourse. There also may be an occurance of a white discharge which is odorless and can have a thick bumpy texture. These infections return and subside consistently in a certain subset of women. Constant recurring infections may be due to underlying medical issues.
Thrush is a type of candidal infection that occurs most commonly in babies or young children. It is caused when overgrowth of the yeast takes place in the mouth, throat, or on the tongue. It is evident due to white patches or spots in this area. Thrush is more likely to occur in babies due to an undeveloped immune system. It may also show up in the elderly patients. Treatment for thrush usually involves prescription medications like Nystatin.
How to Diagnose A Vaginal Yeast Infection
Yeast infections can be diagnosed by a doctor, who may preform a culture to rule out a bacterial infection.
There are other conditions that can mimic the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections including Vaginitis and Trichomoniasis
. These require different types of treatment and will not respond to anti-fingal medications. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject, patients tend self diagnose. A study in a popular medical journal stated that “33 percent of women who were self-treating for a yeast infection actually had a bacterial infection”. In these cases, the culprit was bacterial or a mix of yeast and bacteria.
- If you are having problems with pain, discomfort, or discharge in the vaginal area, a doctor can help properly diagnose you.
Can It Be A Sign Of Illness?
Patients with underactive immune systems are more vulnerable to to Candida Albicans overgrowth. This condition is most commonly seen in people that have AIDS or are undergoing cancer radiation treatment. In this case, the body is not able to properly fight off the infection. Serious problems including sores throughout the gastrointestinal tract and the inability to properly absorb nutrients can occur in these more serious types of infections. This abscesses can lead to intense pain in the stomach or esophagus. They also may cause chronic nausea and vomiting.
In instances where the candida overgrowth infects immune compromised individuals, it may even enter the bloodstream and brain. This type of systemic infection can be life threatening and even cause abscesses in the brain. Life threatening symptoms do not result in cases where the immune system is functioning properly.
How to Treat Yeast Infections
Treatments for fungal infections include oral medications, vaginal suppositories, and topical creams. Topical creams include the medications butoconazole and clotrimazole. Oral medications for fungal infections include nystatin and diflucan.
- These medications should be used under the direction of a doctor as some can cause problems during pregnancy.
- Some side effects may occur with oral yeast infection medications. These would include vomiting, headaches, or pain in the stomach area.
The Role of Beneficial Bacteria in Yeast infections
Probiotics are “beneficial” bacteria that naturally reside inside the stomach and intestinal tract. Some doctors believe that ingestion of certain types of beneficial bacteria can support proper immune system and combat overgrowth of the candida albicans fungus. The bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus is currently being studied as a treatment for certain types of yeast overgrowth. In at least one study, it has been shown that low levels of beneficial bacteria in the vagina or intestinal tract may lead to an overgrowth of opportunistic fungus.
Overuse of antibiotics may interrupt the natural balance between the Candida fungus and beneficial bacteria. Some antibiotics like tetracycline or clindamycin are known for altering the balance of good bacteria in the body. Fungal infections become more common if antibiotics are taken for longer than a period of 5 days. Some doctors recommend replacement of this good bacteria by supplementing with probiotics or live cultured yogurt.
If you are having an issue with what you believe to be a yeast or fungal infection, visit a doctor for proper care.