Yeast Infections and Thrush - what, why and where?
Commonly, when we think of thrush or yeast infections, we think of women as being the main demographic impacted however yeast infections can affect any gender and any age.
Candida albicans is a fungus that exists naturally in the vagina, mouth, bowel and elsewhere in the body. Normally, it causes no problems however when the balance between the normal bacteria and fungi in the body changes, this can result in more favourable conditions for the Candida organisms to multiply, leading to an overgrowth and causing unpleasant symptoms to be experienced.
And ladies - if you’ve had a yeast infection before - you’ll know exactly what I mean by “unpleasant symptoms”.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
It's estimated that 3 in 4 women will have at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime. This infection is officially known as vulvovaginal candidiasis because both the vagina and the surrounding vulva are affected.
The most frequently observed sign is severe itching in the vaginal area. Some women may also experience burning, tenderness, swelling, a clear to white discharge which may appear lumpy, uncomfortable urination, and pain during intercourse are all symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection.
Diabetics with out of control sugar levels are more prone to vaginal yeast infections, as the high sugar levels in their urine provide an ideal medium for the growth of yeast.
Illness, antibiotic use, and other conditions can result in the proliferation of the fungus. The first signs are mild, and the afflicted person feels no pain. However, yeast grows at a rapid rate. Once symptoms develop, it is vital to get medical attention. It's important to know about the various types of yeast infections and their symptoms.
Around 1 in 8 men may contract the infection following unprotected intercourse with a woman suffering with vaginal thrush, so it's important to begin treatment as soon as you start to notice symptoms.
The causes are broad and varied: the physical changes that accompany pregnancy, immune system deficiency, taking antibiotics (which kills off healthy bacteria in the vagina), using scented feminine hygiene products, high blood sugar, wearing tight fitting synthetic underwear, birth control pills, menstruation, unprotected sex, and changes in hormone levels.
Not changing a tampon or pad regularly enough is a commonly reported cause, too.
There are a few other yeast infections worth knowing about too:
Skin and Nail Yeast Infection
Candida Albicans is the infection-causing culprit here. This variety can manifest itself anywhere. Since yeast likes moist areas, sufferers may have an itchy red rash under their arms, between fingers and toes, in the lower abdomen and groin, under the breasts, and anywhere else where folds retain moisture.
Breast-feeding mothers can "catch" the infection from an infant with an oral yeast infection (thrush). Breast infections can be quite painful and may be accompanied by burning, blisters, and itching. Affected nails change in color to yellow or white, thicken, become crumbly and split, and may detach from the nail bed.
Thrush, or oral yeast infection, is caused by Monilia Albicans and Candida. As it proliferates in the mouth and throat, white patches form on the tongue, on the roof of the mouth, inside the cheeks, and on the gums and lips. Bleeding can occur if the patches are wiped away or damaged during the course of tooth brushing or eating. An uncomfortable ulcer may be visible.
Cracks on the corners of the mouth, which are quite sore, can occur. It's possible for the infection to spread to the throat and esophagus (esophagitis), making eating and drinking painful and difficult. Other symptoms include loss of taste and crankiness in babies.
Women who take birth control pills, which result in inadequate resistance to Candida, are at risk for developing thrush. Another cause is antibiotic use. This type of medication eradicates not only disease-causing bacteria but the healthy variety that we need for proper digestion and the prevention of an explosion of yeast in our bodies.
Systemic Yeast Infection
If the fungus makes its way into the bloodstream, digestive system, or respiratory tract, a systemic yeast infection is the result. This serious disorder is characterized by muscle pain, tiredness, changes in bowel movements, breathing difficulties, and dizziness.
People whose immune systems do not function properly due to other medical conditions have a greater tendency to acquire a systemic yeast infection. Treatment is urgent and vital.
Oral and topical medications are widely used. Many effectively treat the condition, but some (especially in the case of nail infections) take a long time to show improvement.
A number of antifungal creams and locations provide relief for vaginal, skin, and nail types. Oral antifungal medications in the form of lozenges, tablets, or liquids are standard thrush remedies.
There you have it ladies - isn’t the human body a complex piece of engineering? Making it so important that we know ourselves well enough to be able to spot any changes as soon as possible. xoxo