Yeast Infections are considered an overgrowth of yeast in the body, also known as Candida species. Yeast is a type of fungus that thrives in warm, moist environments. Also known as candidiasis, yeast infections are usually treatable.
Yeast is naturally found in the body and is usually regulated by the immune system and other essential bacteria in the body. The more common types of yeast infections include oral thrush and genital candidiasis, which can happen to both men and women. Yeast infections can also happen to other parts of the body as well. If left untreated, the organism may spread to the blood and infect the body as a whole. Genital candidiasis can also be passed back and forth between sexual partners if left untreated.
Symptoms and Warning Signs
Symptoms for oral thrush may include:
- Thick, white patches in the mouth and/or tongue
- Redness, inflammation, or swollenness inside the mouth
- Painful cracks around the corners of the mouth
- Pain and difficulty eating or swallowing
Symptoms for genital candidiasis may include:
- Rash on the penis and/or surrounding genital area
- Red, patchy sores near the foreskin
- Severe itching and/or burning sensation
- White, milky discharge near the head of the penis
- Thick, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge
- Strong vaginal odor
- Vaginal irritation, itchiness, and/or inflammation
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Burning sensation when urinating
Any inflammation and irritation of the skin due to prolonged un-ventilated coverage may also be a sign of yeast infection, and not all symptoms need to be present for an infection to occur. If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, be sure to go to your doctor so he or she can prescribe the effective treatment. If symptoms worsen or are accompanied by chills and nausea, it may be a more serious illness caused by another organism.
Causes and Risk Factors:
Yeast infections usually occur when immune systems are weakened. Hence, individuals suffering from immunodeficiency disorders, including but not limited to cancer patients, AIDS patients, and organ transplant receivers, may be more susceptible to candidiasis.
The Candida yeasts generally prefer warm, moist, and un-ventilated environments. Hence, skin areas that are not well-ventilated may be at risk for yeast infections, including but not limited to the skin in orthopedic casts used to set broken bones, genital areas, and even diaper rashes on babies. Women are also more prone to yeast infections than men due to naturally occurring vaginal flora. A diet high in sugar and overly sweetened foods may also put an individual at risk, as it throws off the pH balance of the body. Unnecessary use of excessive antibiotic therapy can also increase risks due to decreased naturally-occurring essential bacteria that monitor the growth of yeast. Patients who have had yeast infections before are also at a higher risk of recurring infections. Thus, it is important to talk to your doctor when undergoing antibiotic treatments and follow the course of treatment completely as prescribed.
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