Table of Contents
What is Candidiasis – Candida
Candidiasis / Candida – An illness resulting from INFECTION with fungi (also called yeasts) from the Candida family, most commonly Candida albicans, though other Candida species may also cause infection.
Candidiasis, commonly called yeast infection (or THRUSH when it involves the MOUTH), affects the mucous membranes of the mouth, ESOPHAGUS, urinary tract, or VAGINA. Candida may also affect the perineal area, such as in DIAPER RASH.
Yeasts and bacteria are NORMAL FLORA (microorganisms present in health) that keep each other in balance. They are vital for numerous body functions such as digestion. Candidiasis develops when there is a disturbance of the balance that allows Candida to flourish, such as a change in the acid balance (pH) of the tissues, suppression of normal flora bacteria with antibiotic therapy, compromised immune function, and excessive moisture. Candidiasis is the most common cause of ESOPHAGITIS, VAGINITIS in women, and diaper rash in infants.
Chronic candidiasis may indicate an underlying health condition such as DIABETES and is often the first sign of HIV INFECTION. A doctor should conduct a comprehensive health examination in people who have four or more episodes of candidiasis in a year.
Symptoms of Candidiasis / Candida and Diagnostic Path
Symptoms of candidiasis vary with the site of infection. In the mouth there are white patches on the tongue and inner cheeks (oral mucosa). Candidal vaginitis produces a characteristic “cheesy” discharge and intense itching. Candidal diaper rash appears as red, fragile blotches or sores with white pustules. In candidal esophagitis the doctor can see characteristic ulcerations on endoscopic examination. Invasive candidiasis may present with FEVER along with indications of LIVER disease such as JAUNDICE, neurologic impairment when infection involves the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM, cardiovascular compromise with candidal ENDOCARDITIS (infection of the lining of the HEART), or RENAL FAILURE when infection involves the KIDNEYS.
The diagnostic path for superficial (oral, esophageal, perineal, or genital) candidiasis includes taking samples of the white patches or discharge for examination under the microscope, which reveals the presence of abundant Candida colonies. BLOOD cultures show Candida growth in invasive candidiasis.
Treatment Options Candidiasis / Candida and Outlook
Superficial candidiasis is common and easily treatable with ANTIFUNGAL MEDICATIONS. HEALINGoccurs without residual consequences, though infection may recur when conditions are favorable. Invasive or systemic candidiasis, which occurs when the Candida enter the blood circulation, is a very serious infection that requires treatment with intravenous antifungal medications. Invasive candidiasis can be life-threatening in IMMUNOCOMPROMISED people.
Antifungal Medications to Treat Candidiasis
|ANTIFUNGAL MEDICATIONS TO TREAT CANDIDIASIS|
Risk Factors and Preventive Measures
DIABETES, long-term use of CORTICOSTEROID MEDICATIONS, antibiotic therapy, and HIV/AIDS are among the key risk factors for candidiasis. A normal course of ANTIBIOTIC MEDICATIONS prescribed to treat bacterial infection may cause candidal vaginitis; women who are susceptible to vaginal candidiasis should discuss prophylactic antifungal therapy with their doctors. Preventive measures for candidal diaper rash, a consequence of both pH change (from URINE contact with the SKIN) and excessive moisture, include frequent diaper changes and application of protective cream or ointment to keep the perineal area clean and dry.