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Candidiasis ( Vaginal Thrush)

 Candidiasis is also often referred to as thrush, and is a yeast infection belonging to a group of fungi containing more than 20 species. The most common type of yeast is Candida albicans, which often affects women in the form of vaginal thrush.
It can normally be found in our bodies, living harmlessly in our digestive systemand in the vaginal area of women without causing any symptoms.
A candidainfection or overgrowth usuallyoccurswhen the skin is damaged in warm, moist body areas. It can also happen when a person has a weakened immune system, and can sometimes be a result of an unhealthy diet. When there is an overgrowth of yeast, other parts of the body become infected.
Candida overgrowth tends to occur as a result of antibiotic use, hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause, illness, or stress. Areas of the body that are often affected include the mouth, vagina, groin, diaper areas, around dentures, nail beds, underarms, under the breast, lower abdomen or skin folds. However, candidiasis may become systemic if left untreatedand will thenaffect a wide range of body functions. In systemic candidal disease, up to 75% of people may die. Even common mouth and vaginal yeast infections can cause critical illness and can be more resistant to normal treatment. Recurrent yeast infections may be a sign of more serious diseases such as diabetes, leukemia, or AIDS.

  • Infection in the Vagina

Vaginal candidiasis, called yeast infection or vaginitis, is an infection of the vulva and/or vagina. It causes a smelly, thick, white-yellow discharge that might occur with itching, burning and swelling. A bad case can cause pain during walking, urination or sexual intercourse.

  • Infection in the Mouth

Oral candidiasis, called thrush, involves the mouth and sometimes the throat. It can also occur without symptoms. The most common symptoms usually include discomfort of the mouth and throat, burning and an altered sense of taste (often described as "bad"). Creamy white or yellowish coatings or spots on the mouth and throat are also common. Thrush is rare if a person's CD4+ cell count is above 500, but outbreaks are more common as it drops to 100.

  • Infection in the Throat

Candidiasis of the throat and windpipe, called esophageal infection, is a serious condition. It is on the list of AIDS-defining illnesses, affecting up to 1 in 5 people with AIDS. It often occurs together with thrush. Symptoms include:

chest pain

nausea

pain when swallowing
 

The esophagus may become partly blocked by coatings and spots that build up. In rare cases, bad ulcers can rupture the esophagus. Esophageal candidiasis can spread, or disseminate, into the stomach and intestines. Because esophageal candidiasis can make swallowing painful, people may not eat enough and lose weight if it's not treated promptly.

  • Infection of the Skin

Candida can infect skin in the armpits, groin (including the scrotum and tip of the penis in men) and under the breasts. This is called cutaneous candidiasis. Infection can also occur around burns, cuts or catheters. It causes a bright red uneven eruption in the folds of skin. This may be coated by a white, wrinkled layer of tissue. Other symptoms include a mild burning. Fingernails and toenails can also be infected, which can be a special problem for people whose hands are often in water, like bartenders or dishwashers.

  • Infection Throughout the Body

Systemic candidiasis is when Candida spreads throughout the body, and it can be life-threatening. Infection might include the brain, heart, kidneys, eyes, liver, genital tract and joints. This form occurs most often in people with low white blood cell counts (neutropenia). This type of infection is also called disseminated candidiasis.

Symptoms of Candidiasis (Vaginal Thrush)

Symptoms can include:

  • Vaginitis
  • Vaginal skin flakes
  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal burning
  • Vaginal irritation
  • Painful urination
  • Painful intercourse
  • Vaginal discharge, including lumpy white or cottage cheese-like discharge
  • Local vaginal tears
  • Red or tender exterior vaginal skin
  • Swollen labia or vaginal lips

What does it look like?

  • Oral thrush: white spots, thick, white lacy patches
  • Candidal skin infections: red flat rash with sharp scalloped edges. There are usually similar looking, smaller patches nearby, known as "satellite lesions." (Rashes may cause itching or pain).
  • Skin inflammation
  • Small blisters
  • Candidal esophagitis can cause painful ulcers throughout the GI system.
  • If Candida gets into the bloodstream, a person may become sick with or without fever.
  • If the infection spreads to the brain, a person may have acute changes in mental function or behavior.

How common is genital candidiasis/VVC, and who can get it?

Nearly 75% of all adult women have had at least one genital "yeast infection" in their lifetime. On rare occasions, men may also experience genital candidiasis. Yeast infection occurs more frequently and more severely in people with weakened immune systems. There are some other conditions that may put a woman at risk for genital candidiasis:

  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Use of corticosteroid medications

How is genital candidiasis/VVC transmitted?

Most cases of Candida infection are caused by the person’s own Candida organisms. Candida yeasts usually live in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina without causing symptoms. Symptoms develop only when Candida becomes overgrown in these sites. Rarely, Candida can be passed from person to person, such as through sexual intercourse.

Treatments for Candidiasis (Vaginal Thrush)

Most episodes of localized candidiasis are treatable with medicated ointments, suppositories, or mouthwash. More severe infections may be treated with oral anti-fungal medications, especially where the person may have a more serious condition such as HIV or diabetes. There are also many natural treatments forvaginal thrush, candidiasis, and other fungal infections, which include the use of herbal and homeopathic remedies.
Natural Remedies
Natural treatment for vaginal thrush has proven to be effective as well for relieving the pain and discomfort of candidiasis and for controlling candida overgrowth. There are many herbs with anti-fungal properties which may be used topically or internally to deal with the problem.
These include herbs such as:

  • Cymbopogon citratus (Lemon grass)
  • Calendula officinalis
  • Tabebuia impetiginosa (Pau d'arco bark)

Apart from treating the fungal overgrowth itself, herbal remedies can also help to improve immune system strength, thereby helping to protect the body against future attacks. Herbal and homeopathic treatments are not only safe and effective to use, but also non-addictive and without side effects. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

How to prevent Candidiasis

  • Eat yogurt with live bacteria;
  • Practice good oral health by brushing and flossing teeth daily;
  • Wash and dry the vaginal or groin areas before dressing;
  • Maintain good hygiene practices when using the bathroom;
  • Increase your intake of garlic because of its anti-fungal properties;
  • Avoid excessive antibiotic use;
  • Avoid eating sweetened and refined foods;
  • Strengthen your immune system with healthy vitamin-rich food and regular exercise;
  • Reduce the consumption of sugar, dairy, wheat, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol because they help yeast to grow.


 

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